Live animal transport of cattle

Tragedy at sea continues: The "Elbeik" sails back to the EU after an odyssey of almost three months with 1,776 cattle on board

FOUR PAWS already reported on the killing of the 895 young bulls of "Karim Allah" this Sunday


8 March 2021 - Twice as many cattle, the same ordeal: Like the Karim Allah before, the transport ship Elbeik has been denied unloading of live cargo for almost three months. The global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS speaks of another disaster caused by live animal transports. This time it is 1,776 young bulls that are allegedly infected with bluetongue disease. This has not been confirmed, as no medical examination has been made possible to date. While it can be assumed that the authorities have failed, the health of the animals is believed to be very poor due to the extreme exposure. The 895 young bulls from the Karim Allah were disembarked and emergency slaughtered in Casrtagena last Saturday.

"The fate of the almost 2,500 cattle shows once again that there is an urgent need for action at the political level. The two ships are representative of a sick system that must change Disasters like this can happen at any time. In the past, too, there were inconceivable accidents during ship transports in which thousands of animals died in agony. The only way to prevent such catastrophes in the future is a clear ban on the transport of live animals by ship,”

says Dr Martina Stephany, Director of Farm Animals and Nutrition at FOUR PAWS.

Almost three months passed, during which the 1,776 young bulls on board the Elbeik suffered not only from a shortage of water and food, but also from poor ventilation below deck. The vessel, which sails under the Togolese flag, disembarked in the Catalan city of Tarragona in mid-December last year and was on its way to Libya. Upon arrival at the port of destination, the local authorities refused to unload the live cargo. The local authorities feared that animals infected with bluetongue were on board, as they came from an area in Spain where there had allegedly been an outbreak of this notifiable disease. Bluetongue spreads via insect bites, but is not transmissible to humans.

Meanwhile, as the Elbeik last set course for Kalamata, the fate of the 895 young bulls of the Karim Allah has been decided: they were emergency slaughtered last Saturday. Whether because of an alleged bluetongue disease was uncertain until the end, as the port authority withheld the test results. According to Spanish veterinarians, the animals were too weak to be transported further due to the months of transport. EU law states that live animals that have already been exported may no longer be (re-)imported into the EU. However, the fact that the animals have never set hoof on soil in a third country is disregarded.

“It is always inconceivable to us how sentient creatures are treated. Live animal transports must come to an end," concludes Stephany.

Live animal transport in Europe


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Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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