Protestors greeted the arrival of one of the world’s largest cattle ships in Timaru, New Zealand over the weekend. Thousands of cattle were loaded in the dark for export to China for breeding.

Government officials say there was nothing unusual about the loading of a live export ship in Timaru at the weekend, despite claims thousands of animals were sent aboard in the dark to avoid scrutiny. Debra Ashton, chief executive of animal rights group Safe, said it wasn’t uncommon for exporters to load cattle on to their ships at night, “possibly to avoid further scrutiny”.

The claims come after two animals reportedly jumped from a truck en route to the livestock carier Ocean Droverat PrimePort Timaru on Sunday morning. One of the cattle was photographed on State Highway 1, near the town centre, at 3.40am before both were rounded up by police.

People protesting against live animal exports in Timaru are claiming to have received death threats, verbal abuse and had food thrown at them. One of the protest organisers, Felicity Penno, said when she first put the protest event up on social media she received several threats and abuse online.

Penno, who organised rallies on Friday and Sunday as livestock carriers Ocean Drover and Ocean Swagman arrived in Timaru to pick up cattle, said she specifically remembers one man who “said that he’ll run me over in his truck. I just think it shows that he’s got no intelligent argument. If that’s the best he can bring forward to argue for live export, it’s a bit sad isn’t it.’’

A post on a Timaru social media page about the live export protest attracted 166 comments, many of which were abusive and violent.

Another of the protest organisers, Toni DeRooy, had frozen chicken nuggets thrown at her from a passing vehicle while she protested on Sunday. “They were frozen, so they were really hard. They actually did well, because they got me with three of them. When they came back we all held our phones up and they covered their faces.”

People in vehicles also yelled abuse at the protestors as they drive past. “It’s not the chicken nuggets, it’s when we go home. I come from Waimate and a lot of people down there see anything about animal welfare as though we’re trying to knock farmers. We’re here about the live export, not the farming industry here.”

DeRooy also said the protesters have received messages of support from all over the country, “which is encouraging”.

An unscientific poll on Stuff attracted 1815 votes with 958 (54 per cent) against live animal exports, 671 in favour (37 per cent) and 186 undecided (9 per cent).

Protesters claim the conditions on board the ships and the manner in which they are killed is inhumane. “We have a voice there that we can use and if we feel strongly and passionate about something we have to make a stand.”

The protesters also raised concerns about having the livestock ship in port in close proximity to the Caroline Bay fireworks on Saturday night. Another protest organiser Lyn Mansel said: “The cattle would have been terrified just to be shoved on that ship. They’re there in the dark wondering what all the booms and the flashes are about. It’s sad really. Made me cry yesterday.” Mansel said the protesters are asking the Government to reinstate a ban on live export vessels.

On Saturday night two cattle found wandering the streets in Timaru were rounded up by police and enclosed in different paddocks. A police spokesperson said the cattle had jumped off the back of a Waimate Transport truck that was heading for the live export ship in the port. Waimate Transport said the truck was on loan to Temuka Transport.

Temuka Transport’s director and general manager Garry Aitken said he had not heard of the incident.

The motorist who captured a photo of one of the cows on State Highway 1 near Briscoes at 3.40am said “it most definitely was the last thing I expected to see”.

A protester speculated that since the cattle had been kept in quarantine before being loaded, the two that jumped would not be shipped. Stuff could not confirm if this was true.

Animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to Greenhouse Gas emissions  – the main cause of Climate Change. China is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide, in particular methane. Climate change is an even bigger threat to the planet and human survival than COVID-19. As China grows its animal agriculture industry, it will get infinitely worse.

Original source: https://www.stuff.co.nz