How much is enough? New evidence shows the suffering of animals exported from Spain to Middle East for slaughter


How much is enough? New evidence shows the suffering of animals exported from Spain to Middle East for slaughter

20 October 2020
Animals International
The investigation carried out by Eurogroup for Animals’ members Animals International and Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) in collaboration with Igualdad Animal and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), reveals the suffering of Spanish animals exported to the Middle East. This is the umpteenth evidence showing the cruelty linked with this trade: Eurogroup for Animals urges the EU to bring an end to the needless suffering and to take a step toward meat/ carcasses only trade.

This summer more than 346,800 cattle and sheep have been exported from Spain to the Middle East and North Africa - just to be slaughtered. Libya, despite the ongoing conflict, remains one of the main importers of live animals from Spain, together with Lebanon, Algeria, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco being the main destinations. 

As shown by countless footage and images collected in the past 10 years by NGOs, EU animals exported to non-EU countries travel for many hours, even days, in critical conditions, and face brutal slaughter practices at arrival which are not even in line with the standards set by World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to guarantee a minimum level of animal welfare at the time of slaughter.

The evidence collected in Spain by Animals International and AWF this summer, in collaboration with Igualdad Animal and CIWF, shows livestock consignments that should have never been approved because of the high temperatures exceeding the maximum range set by the Council Regulation 1/2005 (EU Transport Regulation) for the authorisation of such journeys. Indeed, with more than 34 degrees at the port of Cartagena, the investigators recorded signs of heat stress in the animals that remained confined into the trucks for many hours before being loaded into the vessels. Scared and exhausted, the footage released today shows animals at the ports of Cartagena and Tarragona being moved with violent methods explicitly forbidden by the EU Transport Regulation (i.e  by lifting or dragging the animals by their heads, ears, legs or horns or manipulating them in a way that causes them unnecessary pain or suffering). Some of these animals were also clearly unfit to travel as severely injured and for them the continuation of the journey should have never been allowed. In some cases, in a desperate attempt to escape, some animals fell into the sea without being noticed by the port operators and the authority appointed to ensure the welfare of the animals transported.


Eurogroup for Animals’ members documented for the first time ever the presence of Spanish animals in a Lebanese slaughterhouses, where untrained operators were filmed while putting their hands in the eyes of the animals to move them. Given the high volume of farmed animals exported to non-EU countries by Spain (Spain is the first and the second EU exporter of, respectively, cattle and sheep), it is likely that the same fate befell many other sentient beings departing from the Spanish ports. In 2019 the exports of live animals increased by 28% compared to 2018, that year 901,392 animals (cattle and sheep) were sent by sea. The first EU exporter for sheep is Romania.

Spain also imports calves from all over the EU to fatten them: these animals are very often unweaned and once fattened are slaughtered either in Spain or in Third Countries with practices that are not allowed by the Council Regulation 1099/2009 (EU Slaughter Regulation).

Eurogroup for Animals and its members urge the EU to stop live transport especially to Third Countries and to prepare a strategy to shift to a meat and carcasses and genetic material only trade.