Frightening scenes of Australian animal abuse have been documented at Indonesian slaughterhouses this year, leading to the filing of a new round of complaints against Australia’s live animal export industry, but consumers must take action because the government has shown no desire to lift a finger.
The images provide a heartbreaking glimpse into the trade that provides flesh to dangerous wet markets and skin to the global leather industry. Some of the facilities visited by PETA Asia investigators are even part of the Australian government’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), dispelling any doubt about the government’s inaction.
In the same month this abuse occurred, Mark Harvey-Sutton, CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council (ALEC), expressed his “full confidence in Australian industry standards”. Take a look at the images below and decide if you can say the same. Otherwise, stop buying leather now!
Superb sloppy or not at all
PETA Asia investigators visited seven randomly selected slaughterhouses in Indonesia in April and May 2021 and filed a formal complaint.
They found oxen and bulls forced into restraining cages and shot in the head with captive bolt-action rifles. Cattle were often fully aware of what was happening to them. They slammed their bodies against the metal chute they were trapped in, in a futile attempt to turn around and escape.
The workers failed to stun the cows properly on several occasions. Obviously still conscious after being shot in the head, a steer was hit 64 times in the face and chest with a steel rod in an attempt to force him to stand up so a worker could shoot him again.
The workers also violently twisted his tail until it was broken. In a last ditch attempt to move the panicked and struggling Ox, they pulled on his broken tail a dozen times.
Then there were those for whom stunning wasn’t even tempted at all. Some cattle have simply been physically immobilized before their throats are slit – which, believe it or not, is an Australian government approved slaughter method.
The DCFTA boasts on its website that 95% of Australian cattle in Indonesia are now stunned before slaughter. But from what investigators saw, this is not the case.
Slaughterhouse workers deliberately tugged and stepped on the tails of the animals, apparently in a crude attempt to check their conscience. Some cattle were still kicked, but they were still slaughtered, without any further attempt to render them unconscious.
The oxen which were still moving and whose heads only hung down by a thong of flesh after their throat was slaughtered were hung by the necks on metal hooks. Their legs continued to struggle as they were dragged across the bloody ground and then hoisted up.
Investigators saw animals blink after being slaughtered, breathless as blood filled their throats. Some suffered this way for up to 12 minutes after being shot with a captive bolt pistol.
Monica KH Bando, a veterinarian with over 13 years of clinical and research experience, said the images captured by investigators described “gross violations of acceptable animal welfare standards for livestock,” including “[p]poorly designed facilities, unsanitary conditions, poor handling, methods of restraint that cause stress and distress, lack of stunning and ineffective stunning, and inhumane killing methods ”.
10 years of failure
Workers told investigators the slaughtered cows came from Australia and most wore earrings from Australia’s National Cattle Identification System.
These are just a tiny percentage of the millions of animals that fall victim to the Australian live animal export trade. Australia exported more than 1.8 million animals in 2020, and the vast majority of them were cattle.
It has been a decade since the cruelty in the direct export trade to Indonesia was exposed by Animals Australia on national television in the program Four corners, after which a traceability program – Export Supply Chain Assurance System – was put in place.
The program did not provide any “assurance” of any kind. In fact, it is a colossal failure. He was supposed to stop this kind of cruelty. There have been 184 reports of non-compliance (only reports – the number of incidents would be much higher) since its inception.
When this latest footage was filmed, the Agriculture Department was still investigating the cruelty complaints against Indonesian slaughterhouses filed by Animals Australia in 2020.
The government ignores it, but we have the power to stop it
The Australian government should prepare for a future without live animal exports, but it is not. Each new account is “shocking” to those in power, but are you really surprised? When animals are crammed onto ships as if they were inanimate goods and then sold for slaughter, how can we expect them to be treated as if their pain matters?
Australia is a nation of self-proclaimed animal lovers, so many of us blame someone else for the cruelty – the government or the people overseas. Never mind that these cattle were slaughtered for meat and leather sold all over the world, potentially even in Australia.
The living export industry is the meat industry and the leather industry. If you buy meat from an Australian supermarket or buy a pair of leather shoes, you are putting money in the pockets of the same people who send these animals to be horribly and painfully slaughtered overseas.
And since the leather produced in Indonesia is exported all over the world, you could wear or sit on the skin of the same animals you just watched in this video. PETA Asia investigators discovered that the hides of some Australian cattle were being sold to a fashion brand that exports leather shoes around the world.
If you keep buying animal flesh or skin, you are sending the same message to producers as the government that this industry has a social license to continue and a sustainable future. Please act now to change the market and save animals’ lives every time you buy a meal, a pair of shoes, a jacket or a belt. Personal liability will end this trade. Let’s go!
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Australia: time to abandon ship
In April 2021, New Zealand announced a ban on all exports of live animals (including “breeding animals”) by sea, citing the need to “stay ahead in a world where the animal welfare is increasingly monitored ”. New Zealand has in fact banned the export for slaughter since 2008. In May 2021, the UK announced its intention to ban the export of live animals for slaughter and fattening.
Meanwhile, Australia still leaves a bloody trail across the world, causing misery for animals en route and in every port they reach.
This investigation shows that no regulation, examination or report makes the barbaric trade of shipping and killing live animals more humane.