3 September 2020
Middle Eastern meat company Al Mawashi has hit back at allegations made by the National Council of SPCAs in a recent report over the export of sheep.
In the report, the NSPCA claimed that inspectors at a feedlot in Berlin and at the East London harbour had noted the cruel handling of animals as well as stocking concerns and that sheep were unsheared. The NSPCA went on to claim that these were contraventions of both the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, and the OIE standards which the exporters were ordered to adhere to by the high court last week.
Al Mawashi response: Firstly, the NSPCA is conflicted around the live export industry. There is also enough evidence showing that NSPCA are not truth brokers when it comes to the live exports. Often, they are adventurous with the truth and rely on wild hyperbole to build hostility and dissent against the industry. Secondly, on Sunday 30 August 2020, our operations began with screening and drafting to determine the health and fitness of animals to travel by SAVA accredited vets, trained animal stock handlers and South African livestock farmers from surrounding areas. Concomitantly, animals were transported from the Berlin feedlot to the East London port, where animals were loaded onboard the Al Messilah. Thirdly, the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development was also present with accredited veterinarians to monitor the loading to determine whether the animals were humanely treated on the feedlot, during transport, during loading and on the vessel.
The NSPCA also claimed that handlers employed by Al Mawashi and KLTT kicked and dragged sheep by the ears and punched sheep in the face in front of inspectors. This reportedly happened at both the feedlot and the harbour. The NSPCA said a warning had been issued.
AL Mawashi response: The NSPCA alleged poor handling and cruel treatment of sheep. This has been a long-standing and ongoing allegation dating back to Al Mawashi’s first shipment in September. However, there has never been any evidence to support this allegation. In fact, the NSPCA failed abysmally on two occasions in the Grahamstown High Court to prove this. Furthermore, these allegations were made by NSPCA inspectors who do not hold the necessary veterinary qualifications.
The NSPCA claimed that the sheep had not been sheared.
Al Mawashi response: The NSPCA alleged animals would suffer heat stress because they were not shorn. We can confirm that animals were sheared before loading. In fact, we delayed our shipment for several days to ensure animals were sheared accordingly. In addition to shearing, we need to remind the NSPCA that the vessel’s ventilation system and the reduced stocking density plays an important role in heat stress mitigation.
In the report, the NSPCA claimed that sheep were travelling into excessive heat. They further claimed that sheep were overweight, slightly lethargic and were being stuffed into pens on the ship and that the exporters claimed they would be reshuffled en route to Kuwait. The NSPCA also claimed that good stocking density practices were not adhered to on the vessel after animals were loaded.
Al Mawashi response: The Al Messilah has a capacity for 80 000 sheep. The company loaded less than what the court ordered. There will be no stocking density concerns, and the NSPCA is creating an issue that does not exist.
In the report, the NSPCA claimed that the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development was ordered by the high court to oversee the process, yet allocated two newly qualified veterinarians to control an operation of this magnitude. The organisation claimed that the decision to intervene when the Animals Protection Act and OIE standards were being contravened had largely been left to the expertise of the NSPCA.
Al Mawashi response: The Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development was also present with accredited veterinarians to monitor the loading to determine whether the animals were humanely treated on the feedlot, during transport, during loading and on the vessel.
The NSPCA claimed that some of the handlers already faced charges of animal cruelty.
Al Mawashi response: We have referred the matter to our legal department to look into the legitimacy of the allegations.
Source: Independent Online