In 2019, an ABC News exposé found hundreds of New Zealand and Australian cows suffering on Sri Lankan farms. In response, SAFE launched a petition to end live export. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our volunteers and staff, we collected over 30,000 signatures. We presented our petition to Parliament in August 2019 - on the 16th anniversary of the Cormo Express disaster.
The Cormo Express disaster occurred when Saudi Arabia rejected a shipment of over 57,000 New Zealand and Australian sheep on board the MV Cormo Express, on alleged disease grounds. After two months at sea, around 6,000 sheep died on board. The surviving sheep were gifted to Eritrea, where they were slaughtered in small makeshift abattoirs. This loss of life shocked New Zealand and the world, and led the then Labour Government to suspend the live export of sheep for slaughter. In 2007, a conditional prohibition on the export of cattle, sheep, deer and goats was introduced. This means that live animals cannot be exported for slaughter without the prior approval of the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries.
There have been no livestock exports for slaughter since 2008. Until 2023, New Zealand still will still allow the export of animals for breeding purposes. These animals will spend their lives in intensive farms and are eventually slaughtered, often by methods that are not legal in New Zealand.