Animals Are Not Freight – Day of Action
On Monday 29th August Compassion in World Farming has called for a worldwide protest against long distance transport of animals. It has garnished good support in Europe, the US and Australia but sadly, apart from one protest organized in Delhi by FIAPO, there were virtually no other protests in the rest of the world.
Still, it is wonderful that FIAPO has organized the protest because, arguably, in India animals in transport suffer more than anywhere else in the world.
India is the world’s largest milk producer that with over 300 million bovines, produces at least 30 per cent more than the second largest, the United States and three times more than China which is holding the third place.
Milk production happens all over India but the large factory milk producers are concentrated in the north of the country (Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat) where they produce over 50 per cent of all milk.
As elsewhere in the world, cows and buffaloes used in the dairy industry are usually killed when they can no longer produce milk at around 5 years of age, only a quarter into their natural lifespan.
To kill a cow, she needs to be taken to a slaughterhouse. In India this is somewhat complicated because in 24 out of 29 Indian states, the slaughtering of cows is prohibited and breaking this law can land you in prison for up to ten years. The prohibition is not motivated by compassion but born out of religious concern. Hinduism considers cows sacred and therefore the ban applies only to cows and not to buffaloes.
The only states where there is no restriction on the slaughtering of cows are in the far South of India (Kerala) and in the even further East (West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
So, to kill a cow used in one of the milk production plants somewhere in North India, she would have to travel either some 2,000km to a slaughterhouse in the East or nearly 3,000km to Kerala. Just for reference, the distance between London and Madrid is only 1,400km.
In reality most cows will be butchered closer by the milk factories. Officially India has 1,623 registered slaughterhouses houses but there are thousands illegal bigger and smaller places where animals are being killed for their flesh; all not regulated in any form.
The atrocities that take place in these facilities are beyond the imagination of any normal human being but sadly reality for all the poor animals taken there. The only tiny consolidation is that these illegal abattoirs saves the poor cows some travelling. Even so, the horrors endured by cows in transport are diabolical.
India has some of the best animal welfare laws in the world, very much better than those in Europe. However, while the rules for transportation of animals are well defined and detailed, sadly, there is virtually no implementation whatsoever.
The loading of animals involves heavy beating and sticks or electric prods being pushed into the cows’ genitalia. Animals that can no longer walk are tied up and stacked on top of each other. Once on the trucks, the Indian cows and buffaloes are packed so tightly together that they can hardly move, horns poke in the eyes of others and, as in Europe, they are rarely fed or given water.
With average temperatures of between 32 and 40 degrees Celsius (90-104 F), a journey of just 50km is hellish. Sadly, most have to endure journey of many 100s of kilometers. By the time they reach their final destination, most will be on the verge of death, if they have not already succumbed.
However, for those who are still alive, their suffering is not yet over. The off-loading of the animals involves even more cruelty than the uploading. To get the terrified, totally exhausted bovines to move out of the trucks, their tails are broken and raw chili is rubbed into their eyes, rectums or vaginas.
When they are finally on the grounds of the slaughterhouse, their throats are cut while fully conscious, often with blunt knifes in full sight of each other. Death must come as the best thing that ever happened to them on this earth.
Sitting in Europe, all this suffering may seem so far away but in reality it is not. In fact, it is so very close by that every day it is on your plate and at your feet because India is not only the largest dairy exporter in the world, as of 2016 it is also the world’s largest beef exporter and the world third-largest leather producer.
So, if you haven’t had time to join the protest on the 29th of August, you can choose to be part of it by going vegan, even just for one day, one week, one month or however long you remember the suffering of animals in transport.