Thousands of sheep died on their last journey from Europe to Asia

FOUR PAWS findings shows animal welfare problems before the sea journey

Vienna, 8 June 2015 – The international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS outcries the deadly suffering of thousands of sheep during long distance transport. Following a road trip, 13.000 sheep have been boarded in the harbour of Midia, Romania on a vessel with destination Jordan. According to Jordanian authorities about 5.200 sheep died on the vessel after eight days without feed and water [1]. The president of one of the Romanian farming associations told FOUR PAWS that real number of dead animals is 11.000.

FOUR PAWS investigations shows that some sheep were ill or dead and missing ear rings while they were still on land in the trucks at the gate of the harbour [2]. The findings shows that the dead sheep belong to Holder Trade, a Romanian based company with a 6 million euro yearly turnover exporting 12.000 sheep and 4.000 cattle each year to Western Europe, Africa and Middle East [3]. The findings also includes video materials that shows dead and ill animals without ear rings inside a Holder Trade vehicle parked at the gate of Midia harbour by the Romanian coast of the Black Sea. According to the law each farm animal must wear an ear ring shortly after birth to prove the origin.

 “We found that this company collects animals from all around the country for export, so they arrive already exhausted in the harbour”, says FOUR PAWS campaigner Gabriel Paun. “At our arrival most of the animals were already boarded on the vessel but those we filmed in the truck seemed to be refused to go to Jordan and left to an unknown destination. Without wearing ear rings those sheep were absolutely illegal”.

The incident occurs few weeks after the Jordanian Ministry of Agriculture lifted an eight-month ban on the import of livestock from Romania, where an outbreak of the bluetongue disease was reported during 2014 [4]. Now the Jordanian authorities requested that the vessel dispose of the dead animals before allowing the healthy ones to enter the country. “Throwing dead animals overboard in the sea is a disgusting common practice of transport companies. They can spread diseases and affect marine life. Waves brought many times the corpses on the beach. In April we received information about a dead cow laying on the beach of Tel Aviv after 32 cows died during a transport from Romania to Israel”, added Gabriel Paun.

 According to the EU legislation long distance transport refers to journeys longer than eight hours. Considering the average size of a European state a transport over eight hours means most of the times international transport already. This kind of transport by truck, vessel or airplane was not common practice in the past. It exploded due to the need of various markets for cheap fresh meat. For example Western Europe is producing common breed of cattle such as Charolaise, Black Angus, Red Angus, Blue Belgian or Limousine 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 export them to western Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.

“Many business people do not realise that these are living animals, not products. When they die during long distance transport it becomes crystal clear that it is less than comfortable.  It is the supreme suffering a sentient being can bear. No matter how strict the rules are such mass death occurs more and more often. European states should export meat, not live animals. This extremely suspicious death of thousands of poor animals must be deeper investigated. The truth has to come to light and the criminals must be severely prosecuted” said Gabriel Paun.


FOUR PAWS calls on an end of long distance transport and for European producers to offer consumers the choice to buy meat from animals born, farmed and slaughtered in the same country. Information about the region(s) of birth, farming and slaughter should also be clearly mentioned on the label. This should lead to a significant reduction of duration of the transport for animals.