The decision to ban livestock exports to Egypt was taken after industry representatives at the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC) were shown footage of Australian cattle filmed by welfare group Animals Australia at two Egyptian abattoirs.
ALEC said the videos were “extremely disturbing” and included a “vicious, cruel and clumsy” emergency slaughter of an injured animal, as well as “appalling practices” during regular slaughterings.
ALEC chief executive Alison Penfold said: “I feel distraught. These acts are horrific. The outrageous cruelty has left me and my industry colleagues disgusted and horrified. No one in our industry, and no Australian, accepts such treatment of animals, and I believe the Egyptian authorities will not tolerate this.”
She added that there would be no cattle exports to Egypt for the foreseeable future and that the ALEC would need to see “evidence that practices and procedures comply with international animal welfare guidelines” before agreeing to resume trade.
Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, which was first given the footage, confirmed that it has launched an investigation into the complaints of cruelty and was working with the relevant authorities in Egypt.
It is hoped that the Egyptian authorities will act to help protect the welfare of the 3,000 Australian cattle still held at the Egyptian facilities.
“Exporters are working now with the Egyptian operators of the facilities to address the welfare issues immediately and we await further information from the Australian Government as to the Egyptian authorities’ response,” said Penfold.
Australian cattle exports to Egypt were banned in 2006 after accusations of cruelty at the Bassateen abattoir. However, exports resumed under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian and Egyptian governments.
Animals Australia said that it will publish the full details of its latest investigation in due course.