Yet another shipment of South African livestock by sea ended tragically recently when 42 head of cattle of a shipment of 512 died during heavy weather between East London and Mauritius, where they were bound, to be slaughtered.
A further one was destroyed on discharge as it was found to be in too poor a condition.
The shipment took place aboard a small 51-year-old converted general cargo ship named LSS Success. She is owned by the Mauritian ministry of agriculture.
Enquiries by the South African NSPCA into the disaster elicited a single response, from the master of the ship, to say that she had encountered a storm en route, which caused the animals to experience “seasickness” as a consequence of which they died. The NSPCA believes a more likely cause of death would have been crushing in the pens as the animals would have battled to stay on their feet aboard a small, unstabilised, pitching and rolling vessel in a storm.
As is common practice on livestock carriers, the carcasses were disposed overboard at sea, thereby making a veterinary diagnosis of the cause of death impossible.
East London has become South Africa’s premier live animal export port. While large shipments of sheep to the Middle East have been well-publicised by the NSPCA ~ and roundly condemned by animal rights activists ~ in recent years, smaller shipments of cattle have been regularly undertaken from the port to Mauritius for many years.