The gruesome history of the Bader III live export ship – which docks at Port Adelaide this week

April 19, 2018

As Australians reel at sickening images taken by a whistleblower onboard several routine live export shipments, another vessel is due to dock in Port Adelaide this week to begin loading more sheep for the Middle East market.

Like most live export carriers, the Bader III has an appalling record of extreme animal suffering and mass deaths. The phase-out of this cruel trade must start now.

Conditions on board a routine long haul live export vessel, as exposed by a whistleblower and 60 Minutes.

Sobering reading: official reports of mass sheep deaths

When large numbers of Australian animals die on live export ships, Australia’s Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is required to investigate and produce a report. These reports make for sobering reading.

Ships belonging to one of the largest live export companies operating from Australia, the Perth-based Livestock Shipping Services, frequently feature in AQIS reports. The Livestock Shipping Services ship Bader III, due to dock in Port Adelaide on Thursday April 19, is no exception.

The Bader III is one of just three live export vessels that are two-tiered. This means animals are packed into two levels of pens on each deck, making welfare checks during the long sea crossings difficult if not impossible. This design also restricts the crucial ventilation needed to prevent heat stress.

AQIS’ Mortality Report Number 46 tells us that on August 17, 2013, nearly 45,000 sheep walked up the ramps on to the Bader III at Port Adelaide, along with an unknown number of camels.

The ship travelled on to Fremantle, where a further 30,795 sheep and some cattle were packed into pens onboard. The stocking density was in accordance with the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.

Bader III ship holds awful record for highest sheep deaths

The hottest time in the Middle East are the middle months of the year. Data shows that sheep deaths spike on board live export carriers entering the region at this time. The mercury climbed as the Bader III crossed the equator bound for its first Middle Eastern destination, Qatar.

Something went terribly wrong on Day 21 of this shipment, when the Bader III finally arrived in Qatar’s port city of Doha. The temperature in Doha on this day – 7 September 2013 – hovered around 38C. As the crew began offloading sheep, a staggering 4050 died – one of the largest numbers of exported Australian sheep to die onboard a ship in a single day.

Almost 80% of the sheep that died were from the Adelaide consignment. Unsurprisingly, the live export vet reported that most died from heat stress.

Thousands of sheep deaths legally sanctioned every live export journey

Sheep who perished on board live export ships, as exposed by a whistleblower and 60 Minutes.

Under Australian regulations, live exporters must report to the Federal Agriculture Department if the mortality rate of sheep onboard ships exceeds 2%. The official end of journey death toll of 4,179 sheep on this 2013 shipment of 75,508 sheep represents a mortality rate of 5.53%. For the sheep loaded in Port Adelaide, the mortality rate was 7.28%.

Under our Federal Government’s 2% rule, more than 1,500 sheep had to die onboard this particular shipment before Livestock Shipping Services were required to make a report that would trigger an investigation by the regulator, Australia’s Federal Department of Agriculture.

That is a lot of dead sheep.

If less than 2% of sheep had died – say, 1400 on this 2013 shipment – that would have been considered an ordinary part of the live export business.

Even sheep that don’t die suffer terribly on live export ships

A sheep clearly suffering onboard a live export ship, as exposed by a whistleblower and 60 Minutes.

However, the number of dead animals on its own is not a good indicator of animal welfare. The ones that don’t die equally suffer.

The latest images aired on 60 Minutes give a shocking insight of what mass death and extreme animal suffering on board a routine live export shipment during the Middle East’s summer looks like.

Sheep unable to reach food and water. Sheep unable to lie down for the entire three to four week journey. Sheep panting and frothing at the mouth from heat stress and collapsing on decks belly-deep in excrement.

Yet still our Federal Government keeps issuing export permits to companies that routinely breach regulations, and the animals keep being loaded in full knowledge of the suffering that inevitably awaits them.

Help end the cruel and unnecessary live export trade

The Bader III’s latest victims of this trade are also headed to the Middle East. Livestock Shipping Services knows and presumably accepts that a percentage of its cargo will not survive.

Questions are now being raised about the role of insurance in the live export trade. Just how much live exporters like Livestock Shipping Services receive per dead sheep from their insurers is unknown.

But if mortality rates are any indication, there appears to be little commercial incentive to achieve what is surely the main aim of this trade, to deliver sheep that – by journey’s end – are still alive.

RSPCA South Australia believes it’s high time our state’s reputation-damaging involvement in this inhumane and unnecessary trade ends. Please join us in demanding a phase-out of long-haul sheep shipments from SA. Add your voice here.

17 thoughts on “The gruesome history of the Bader III live export ship – which docks at Port Adelaide this week”

  1. Karen livsey

    Ban this horrible trade!!! Please!!!! Australia is begging you!!!
    Have a heart!!! #banliveexport

  2. Naomi Little

    Ahhhh this makes me furious!!!
    Animal cruelty is just wrong and seriously it’s 2018 people this should not be happening.
    Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

  3. Roz

    This is barbaric shame on you all

  4. Ashley williams

    Disgusting unnecessary cruelty and suffering inflicted upon to innocent trusting animals.

  5. Sam Cahill

    Disgusting treatment of Animals, this is not okay!

  6. Lisa Beales

    Australia’s shame…..time to Ban Live Export and help end the suffering of these beautiful, sentient animals.

  7. Amber

    absolutely heart breaking!!! 2018 and this torture is still going on…! SHAME ON YOU AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT! Im embarrassed to be an australian. This is just so wrong on so many levels. It’s not like this is the first time this has been going on for years. Makes me sick!!! No Animal should be treated this way

  8. Leanne Thomas

    SHAME SHAME SHAME. This must stop now. The Australian public is pleading for an immediate ban. No inquiry or review. JUST BAN IT!!!

  9. Kelly Allen

    This cruelty must stop now!

  10. Kelly Allen

    This is disgusting treatment of these poor animals. End live export now!

  11. Suzanne Cass

    The Bader III is one of three ships still to have the double tiers. The others are the Maysora (1989) and the Al Shuwaikh (1986). While AMSA continues to withold a permit to the Awassi Express, limiting its load to 57,000 sheep, the smaller, older Maysora slunk out of Fremantle in the dead of night last week with 77,000 sheep and 9,500 cattle on board for a mammoth journey of up to 6 weeks. 135,000 of the sheep were from Adelaide. The double tiers mean that twice as many sheep can be crammed in, 3 per square metre, unable to lie down, reach feed and water, and with no headroom either. These CANNOT be defended on any level, and it proves that the Minister has been doing little more than posturing. His Whistleblowers’ Hotline is absurd. No-one on these ships will be allowed to keep a mobile phone once the ship sails. The exporters will NEVER let this sort of vision get out there again.

  12. kara

    Live Export is probably the only industry in Australia that expects and accepts a high number of unintentional but predictable animal deaths. 2% may not sound like much, but if you stood in a paddock surrounded by 1000 sheep, or saw a pile of 1000 carcasses – it’s actually a lot…

  13. Debra Ward

    The cruelty inflicted on innocent Australian animals is horrendous. For years footage of the horrrors onboard and when the animals arrive at their destination have been documented. Ban Live Export and save these beautiful and trusting animals from this cruelty. This must end now. Shame on the Australian Government for letting it continue.

  14. Jane Crowther

    Appalling treatment of animals , this trade must stop !

  15. Sue Mills

    The time to stop this is now. No more excuses. No more promises. Now.

  16. L Barrett

    The Australian government’s Federal Minister responsible for allowing the continuance of this deplorable and despicable practice needs to immediately do three things:
    1. “Grow a pair”;
    2. Stop the live export trade forthwith; and
    3. Make live export ILLEGAL forthwith, with exceptionally harsh penalties!

  17. Kevin

    Please, please stop this vile and inhumane slaughter and suffering.

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