Today, 14 June, citizens and activists across the world will come together to call for a ban on the cruel export of live animals.
The call comes on the 8th annual Ban Live Exports: International Awareness Day alongside the release of shocking never-before-seen footage which exposes the horrific conditions live animals being exported from Europe are forced to endure.
It shows animals being dragged and kicked, and forced into packed, filthy, and overheated trucks and boats. The animals can be heard crying in distress and terror during the relentless journey.
Citizens in the EU will be sending digital postcards to the 14 National EU agriculture ministers who plan to block stronger legislation that will protect animals during transport. The postcards show harrowing images of live exports and urges them to back the proposed changes.
And in the UK, Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch will be calling on the Government to reconsider its recent decision to abandon promised legislation that would have banned live exports for slaughter or fattening from or through Great Britain. She provides the voiceover in a new video showing the cruelty of the trade and the history of the 50-year-long campaign to end it.
Harry Potter star calls for action
The actress and Compassion in World Farming Patron said: “We must end this horrific trade once and for all. Full stop. The UK Government has promised to ban live exports, but in a betrayal of trust, they’ve dropped their own Bill that was set to do just that. It’s been a long fight, but we can’t give up now. Together, we can Ban Live Exports.”
Every year, millions of animals around the world endure gruelling journeys spanning thousands of kilometres, subjected to unimaginable suffering in the process. They are transported by air, sea, or land to be slaughtered or fattened for slaughter. Sheep and calves, in particular, are kept in overcrowded conditions, deprived of sufficient food, water, and space to move. Tragically, many face inhumane deaths in countries lacking adequate slaughter laws.
In January, several European countries publicly opposed progressive measures aimed at prohibiting or limiting certain types of live animal transport. However, Germany and Luxembourg have taken a stand, prohibiting live exports to non-EU countries. They are joined by the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Denmark in supporting an EU-wide ban on this cruel practice.
Bans introduced in New Zealand and Brazil
Internationally, other nations have taken steps to address the issue. New Zealand implemented a ban on live exports by sea, effective from April, while the Australian Government committed to phasing out live sheep exports. In Brazil, the federal court ruled in April that no live animals should be exported from the country's ports, recognising the poor welfare conditions experienced by animals during long sea journeys.
We have been at the forefront of the campaign to end live animal exports. In January 2022, alongside Four Paws, WeMove, and Animals International, we submitted a joint petition with more than 900,000 signatures calling for a ban and improved animal protection during transit.
Citizens demand action
We also presented a giant postcard to a representative of the Swedish Presidency of the EU in May, depicting the suffering caused by live exports and conveying the message from EU citizens demanding an end to this cruelty.
Debbie Tripley, Global Director of Campaigns and Advocacy, said: “When we know that animals like cows, sheep, and pigs are sentient beings that feel pain and fear, allowing them to be transported hundreds or thousands of miles, often for cheap slaughter in horrific conditions, is beyond inhumane, and it must end.”
“As part of its review of animal welfare legislation, the European Commission is proposing strong improvements to existing transport rules as well as a ban on live exports. The vast majority of European citizens – 94 per cent* – support a ban on live exports to non-EU countries, so we must ensure they are not betrayed by EU agriculture ministers in favour of the powerful agriculture lobby.
“We’re thrilled to have the support of EU and UK citizens pushing for an end to this inhumane practice and we urge decision-makers to listen to the will of the people by helping to ensure we end live exports once and for all.”
Take action now
Urge your national minister to support the proposed legislation to ban live exports and improve transit laws.
* This statistic is from the European Commission’s 2022 consultation report conducted in support of the fitness check and revision of the EU animal welfare legislation. Please find the factual summary report here.