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FOUR PAWS undercover research reveals: Thousands of sheep die on journey from Europe to Near-East


Vessel carrying thousands of European sheep approaching Somalia weeks after their death

FOUR PAWS exposed earlier this week the devastating tragedy of a long distance transport of 13.000 sheep from Romania to Jordan. Today, two weeks after the vessel was denied entry to the port of Aqaba, Jordan, the vessel is approaching the port of Berbera in Somalia, having been denied everywhere else along its route through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Eight days without water and food

According to the Jordanian farming ministry, 5200 sheep arrived dead but the vessel as a whole, including the 7,800 living animals, was denied from  leaving the harbour in Aqaba. The Jordanian officials said that animals died of hunger and thirst following eight days without water and food. 


Company tries to get rid of dead bodies

“This case has become very strange and extremely worrying for animal welfare and food safety. We are tracking this vessel which is not returning to European soil but is probably trying to get rid of corpses in other African or Middle-Eastern countries. Now the vessel is approaching Somalia after being denied everywhere else. We need to know what is going on on the boat and if there are there still living animals on it,”commented Gabriel Paun, FOUR PAWS International Campaigner.

FOUR PAWS is cooperating with international animal welfare organisation

FOUR PAWS is closely working with other international organisations such as Compassion in World Farming, Eyes on Animals and Animals Australia, to conduct further investigations and to make formal complaints and briefings to the European Commission, relevant Members of the European parliament and the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health).


FOUR PAWS undercover research reveals that thousands of sheep are suffering and dying during long distance travel. As the demand for cheap fresh meat is booming in various markets, European companies started to transfer farm animals from Eastern Europe by ship via the Mediterranean Sea to Asia and Africa. Thousands of animals are suffering or even dying during these exhausting travels. For days, they are crammed together without access to food or fresh water. Those, who survive the agonizing transport, are facing a brutal death in a slaughterhouse. One of these European companies is “Holder Trade”, who is shipping hundreds of thousand of sheep from Europe to Asia or Africa annually. FOUR PAWS has now revealed that some 5,200 sheep have died in agony during such travel from Romania to Jordan. According to the president of one of the Romanian farming associations, the real number of dead animals is 11,000. 


Dead animals simply tipped into the sea

Gabriel Paun, Campaign staff at FOUR PAWS, who investigated the undercover research for FOUR PAWS, reported: “Now the Jordanian authorities have requested that the vessel dispose of the dead animals before allowing the healthy ones to enter the country. Throwing dead animals overboard into the sea is a disgusting common practice of transport companies. They can spread diseases and affect marine life.”  

Long-distance transports are booming

This kind of transport – by truck, boat, or aircraft – was not common practice in the past. It exploded due to the demand of various markets for cheap fresh meat. For example, Western Europe produces common breeds of cattle and sends them by truck to Eastern Europe for further breeding and fattening. Having a strategic geographical position (road hub and sea access), Romania collects farm animals from Eastern Europe and exports them to Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

FOUR PAWS investigations reveal huge scandal

FOUR PAWS investigations show that some sheep were ill or already dead and missing ear tags while they were still on land in the trucks at the gate of the harbour. “Many business people do not realise that these are living animals, not products. When they die during long distance transports it becomes crystal clear that it is less than comfortable. It is the supreme suffering a sentient being can bear”, said Paun.


Long-distance transports have to stop!

FOUR PAWS calls for an end to long-distance transport and for European producers to offer consumers the choice to buy meat from animals born reared and slaughtered in the same country. Information about the region of birth, rearing and slaughter should also be clearly mentioned on the product label