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Network for Animals was horrified to learn of the appalling conditions for 19,000 cattle aboard the Al Kuwait, a livestock carrier ship that docked in South Africa’s Cape Town harbor on Monday, February 19, 2024.

As the ship approached the harbor, an unbearable stench accompanied it – the smell was so strong and so unpleasant that it permeated the entire city, causing general outrage. The distressing scene unfolded as the vessel, en route from Brazil to Iraq, moored in Cape Town for food and supplies.

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The Al Kuwait, a livestock carrier ship, docked in South Africa’s Cape Town harbor on Monday, February 19, 2024, with 19,000 cattle aboard kept in appalling conditions. Credit: Shelley Christians

Inspectors from the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) went on board and discovered that for two-and-a-half weeks, 19,000 distressed cattle had been forced to live in their own urine and feces in extraordinarily cramped conditions with poor ventilation. In a brief period they found three dead cattle and euthanized five.

The ship is due to leave for Iraq tonight (Tuesday, February 20) so Network for Animals sought urgent legal advice to see what we could do to help the animals. We were informed that winning a court order preventing the cattle from being transported to Iraq was a strong possibility, but it would have been an empty victory as the Al Kuwait would have already sailed away.

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Image for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Dr. Lynn Simpson

It may be that we have lost this battle, but we will not stand by and see this cruelty repeated. Cape Town is an important port for thousands of ships seeking to get round the tip of Africa.

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Image for illustrative purposes only.

We instructed our legal team to institute an action in the South African courts seeking a declaratory order – saying that any ship coming into local waters in future must obey our animal welfare and livestock laws. Failure to comply will result in denial of service and fuel. Though this process may take up to two years and be very costly, we are determined to remain steadfast in this mission as we have seldom witnessed such barbaric cruelty towards animals.

Banner image: Image for illustrative purposes only; Credit: Dr. Lynn Simpson


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