The Real Facts behind the Industry
Please note: Restraint boxes were also supplied by the Australian Government to many Indonesian slaughterhouses and it was accepted that the boxes exacerbated the suffering.
Also in both Indonesia and the Middle East slaughtermen are not trained, nor do they have an interest in ensuring the animals dies immediately.
Dr Petra Sidholm's response to LiveCorp
Dr Petra Sidholm MRCVS
A noted United Kingdom based veterinarian has been travelling the world in an attempt to improve the conditions and treatment of animals imported into various countries. Dr. Petra Sidholm, MRCVS has concentrated her efforts of late in Egypt, where she has been involved in negotiations on behalf of concerned animal welfare organisations. Dr Sidholm has had discussions with representatives of the key players involved in all aspects of the live animal trade. Government officials, religious leaders, academics, economists and fellow veterinarians were all consulted and requested to provide input into in Dr Sidholm's study.
Australia has also been on Dr Sidholm's agenda and she has been involved with Animals Australia since 1999. Dr Sidholm has personally presented her findings and related concerns to Livecorp and other relevant Government agencies. Facts relating to unloading methods, handling, transportation and slaughtering conditions and facilities both overseas and locally, have all been highlighted in Dr Sidholm's meetings with Australia's live animal export industry body representatives. The abhorrent conditions for animals aboard the MV Maysora on its maiden voyage from Australia to Adibya (Egypt) were the focus of a further report presented by Dr Sidholm in 2001.
Several misleading and totally inaccurate comments have been made in an effort to discredit Dr Sidholm, the work she does to improve the welfare of animals and the findings detailed in her reports on the slaughter of animals in the Middle East. These inaccuracies are an attempt to draw away attention from the real cruelty issues that exist widely within the live animal export trade and to cast doubts upon the integrity of those who oppose this trade, a trade which includes the slaughter of Australian animals using a method that is illegal here.
It needs to be noted that those that cast aspersions upon Dr Sidholm are heavily involved in the export trade therefore have a vested interest in seeing the trade continue.
Dr Petra Sidholm is funded by a Swiss Animal Welfare Charity who is vehemently opposed to long distance transport. Dr Sidholm has worked extensively in Europe against long distance transport of animals and so any suggestion that she is funded by a European Livestock organisation is pure fiction and aimed at maligning Dr Sidholm's fine reputation.
Papers detailing the observations by Dr Sidholm on the slaughter of animals in slaughterhouses in Cairo were published and distributed at two conferences in Egypt as well as given to local Egyptian and international media. After the article based on the papers appeared in the Australian Veterinary Journal it was decided that to enter Egypt’s main slaughterhouse called Bassatin, Dr Sidholm must have the permission of the Chief Governmental Veterinarian who was harshly criticised by the media over the shortcomings that were revealed. She has NEVER been banned from any Egyptian slaughterhouse.
Bassatin slaughterhouse was built many years ago. At that time Bassatin was equipped with 2 electrical slaughter-lines and 8 slaughter boxes, to allow contract Egyptian slaughterman to slaughter cattle in a somewhat more humane way. However, the electrical lines and the slaughter boxes are not working and haven’t been for some time, due to mechanical breakdowns and a lack of maintenance.
A restraint box was provided by LiveCorp, but this box is totally unsuitable. It has been suggested by Livecorp, that Dr Sidholm had asked the slaughterman not to use this box, a claim hotly refuted by Dr Sidholm. Dr Sidholm does oppose this box because the box design is more of a restraining box not a slaughter box. In fact Dr Nigel Brown, LiveCorp representative in the Middle East, was asked by veterinarians of the slaughterhouse if he would consider this box design to be humane, and as we understand, he admitted that it is merely a restraining box.
Our sources inform us that Dr Sidholm and Mr Geoffrey Beere, the designer of the box, recognise that the restraining box is unsuitable for use at Bassatin.
In an effort to improve this appalling situation, Dr Sidholm made many recommendations to LiveCorp on various HUMANE slaughter boxes however these alternatives appeared to have gone unheeded.
Slaughtering using this box will take 4 times as long as without it and that is why the workers avoid using it. Furthermore, using this box means the legs of the cattle are harshly pulled underneath the body by the help of ropes causing the cattle to fall rapidly on their sides. This causes a lot of bruising and unnecessary stress even before, their throats are slit for bleeding while fully conscious.
Mid December 2003, a new box to the value of $A60,000.00, was installed at Bassatin Slaughterhouse……
Paid for by who? The Australian Taxpayer!
We can only hope that this box is of a far superior design that will allow for the slaughter of our Australian cattle in a humane way than previously and that the Egyptian slaughtermen will favour it’s use.
Following are extracts of what occurs at Bassatin slaughterhouse, just outside Cairo [N.B. Dr Sidholm's reports were presented to industry and government in 2001]:
‘A group of four or five cattle is driven onto the landing, where the slaughter men spread themselves around the huddled animals and begin to cut more tendons on the front and the hind legs. …The affected animal then attempts to hobble in the opposite direction where another slaughterman waits to strike. The knee and elbow joints are also targeted for destruction and the eyes knocked or stabbed out’.
Dr Petra Sidholm, the author of this eye-witness account explains that the Egyptian slaughtermen are afraid of the larger Australian cattle, and strike out to disable the cattle prior to forcing them to the slaughter hall.
Australian cattle and sheep are exported live to Egypt (and many other Middle East countries) and are killed without prior stunning. Their throats are cut while fully conscious.
The Bassatin slaughterhouse (at the time of this account) killed some 300 Australian cattle each day. They are paid per animal killed.
‘I have observed a slaughterman, cutting the tongue from an animal and stuffing it into his shirt directly after its throat was cut and while the animal was still conscious and struggling with its head raised above the ground. I was advised that, for some of the assistant labourers, parts of the body are the only reward they get for their work.’