Livestock shipment plans put on ice

09 September 2020 | Agriculture

Windhoek • [email protected]

The Namibian company that planned to bring domestic livestock from South Africa and Botswana by road to local seaports for export by ship to Kuwait, has pulled the plug on these plans for now.

The decision was made in the wake of a petition and condemnation from local animal rights groups against the proposal to ship live farm animals over long distances in gruelling conditions to the Middle East.

Director of Tradeport Namibia, Monty Ndjavera, told Namibia Media Holdings that he gave instructions on Tuesday to “put everything on hold for now”.

This includes the environmental clearance application that had given rise to the protests in response to the company’s plans to ship as many as 125 000 sheep, cattle and goats to Kuwait.

Ndjavera said his decision to stop the process was made after he noted the strong opposition, locally and internationally, to the export of live farm animals via sea to foreign abattoirs or farm animal buyers.

He said his logistics company Tradeport does not want to be involved in a business that will attract widespread outrage. He stressed he is a proud Namibian and wants to ensure his company’s reputation remains intact.

Ndjavera said he is not opposed to “abandoning the idea and to start something else”.

He clarified that no specific clients had yet been identified or come on board, as the proposed venture was still in its infancy.

Tragic

This year, close to 6 000 dairy cows and 41 persons drowned when a livestock ship disappeared in a typhoon near Japan en-route from New Zealand to China.

Last year, more than 14 000 sheep died when a transport ship capsized near Romania. In 2015 more than 8 000 livestock drowned in two separate incidents when ships capsized. In 2009, 17 932 cattle, 10 224 sheep and 44 people drowned after a ship capsized.

Dr Lynn Simpson, a veterinarian from Australia, was first introduced to the long-haul shipping trade of domestic animals in 1999. To date, she has accompanied 57 long-distance sea voyages with livestock to the Middle East, Russia, Libya, and Turkey.

She describes the trade as “a nasty, cruel, draconian trade, reliant on cruelty and suffering to be profitable, that no civilised country should want to be part of in 2020 onwards”.

Her experience proves that on-board conditions, where thousands of livestock are crammed together in unhygienic and crowded conditions, lead to “widespread and predictable animal suffering and deaths due to the inherently cruel nature of this trade”.

She said she has observed thousands of animal deaths during the voyages.

Local

Informed of the trade potentially taking off in Namibia, Simpson said: “I would caution any country approached by exporters to avoid getting caught in this trade of unnecessary cruelty and death”.

She said as an alternative, countries should rather slaughter and process the meat domestically, to be exported as frozen products.

This will ensure jobs and by-products are kept local and benefit the local economy, instead of sending animals “to a stressfully cruel voyage followed by un-stunned, fully conscious ritual slaughter by knife”.

Lawyer and animal rights activist Ronel Lewies underlined that the trade is riddled with “immense suffering to animals and constitutes gross animal abuse”.

She said she supports local efforts to stop the trade in its tracks.

Simpson warned that the companies involved in the trade are eager to lure new countries due to “the global decline due to general community disgust over its horrible history of cruelty, deaths and disasters”.

Bad business

The EIA consultant handling the environmental clearance application, Vilho Mtuleni, confirmed that Tradeport gave instructions to put the project on hold. He said registered parties would be notified in due course.

By Wednesday the petition ‘Say NO to 'livestock by sea' from Namibia to Kuwait’ had garnered close to 1 200 signatures.

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