Animal welfare crisis in Australia live export - MV Bahijah 

An animal welfare crisis is unfolding in Australia as the live export of over 16,000 sheep and cattle. See our rolling updates here 


22 Jan - Australian live export vessel MV Bahijah has been sent back to Australia after it was deemed at-risk of attack in Middle East.  

Thousands of sheep and cattle have been stuck onboard for several weeks so far, with the long journey back home now underway. 

There are serious concerns about the health and welfare of the animals, and major questions as to how such permits to export the animals into potentially dangerous conditions were granted in the first place. 

Yet again, we bear witness to the suffering sheep and cattle endure for the live export trade. It must end now. 

Sign our petition calling for the planned phase out of live sheep exports to be introduced before the end of the first term of government. 

Read the full article here.


31 Jan - Media Release  

The Australian Alliance for Animals, of which FOUR PAWS Australia is a core member, is calling for common sense to prevail as the Department of Agriculture considers an application to re-export thousands of Australian sheep and cattle stranded on the MV Bahijah currently anchored off the Port of Fremantle. 

Read the Release 


1 Feb - Australian #LiveExport Horror Continues. 

15,000 sheep and cattle are at the mercy of extreme heat, trapped inside a hot metal live export ship for weeks now, while their fate is debated and action delayed. 

Compassionate Australians have been watching this horror story unfold as these animals were first sent into a conflict zone in the Red Sea, before being turned around and shipped back to Australia. 

Now they cannot even disembark, forced to wait inside these hot pens in waste and filth, as the ship sits off the coast of Western Australia as a heatwave hits the area. 

As the ship sits still, the cooling ventilation may be reduced, these animals will be stressed. They are suffering.  

The industry has proposed to send the ship back but take a longer route to avoid the conflict zone. This could mean more WEEKS of being trapped on this ship for these poor animals. 

Making headlines around the world, Australia's lack of compassion for these animals is on full display. 

"For decades, it has been well documented that the live export industry is built upon animal suffering, this is an industry that puts profits over animal welfare at every turn, and this is just the latest example," Rebecca Linigen, National Director, FOUR PAWS Australia. 

"The industry calls to leave these animals languishing at sea is a perfect example of their blatant and continued disregard for the welfare of animals under their care. And in the same breath, the industry claims it has improved and can continue to operate. This obvious contradiction shows their disregard not just for animals but for the majority of Australians calling for action. This industry has no social licence to operate, and the MV Bahijah fiasco proves it." 

Yet again, we bear witness to the suffering sheep and cattle endure for the live export trade.  It must end now. 


6 Feb - #Breaking News: Reprieve for Live Export Animals  

Last night, it was confirmed the Federal Department of Agriculture will not approve the current live export application to re-export the 16,000 animals currently trapped on MV Bahijah.  

After weeks of uncertainty and major concerns for the welfare of the sheep and cattle on board, the live export industry wanted to send the animals on another arduous 33-day journey, after they have already been trapped inside the ship for weeks already. But the Federal Government has rejected this application.  

It is important to note though, that this is not the end of this issue.  

While we are glad that this decision was made, we still don't know what will happen next for these animals, whether they will be brought back to Australian soil or if live export is still on the cards.  

The Australian Alliance for Animals, of which we are a core member, and compassionate animal protection organisations around the country, are fighting for these animals. We will keep you updated as news develops.  

In the meantime, let's keep the nation's gaze on these animals, and call for compassion to prevail.  

Read More on ABC News

6 Feb – Media Release  

The Australian Alliance for Animals has today welcomed the decision of the Department of Agriculture to reject an application to re-export approximately 15,000 sheep and cattle stranded on board the MV Bahijah since 5 January. However, uncertainty remains over the fate of the animals with the Alliance holding concerns the exporter will apply for another re-export application. 

Read the Release.  

7 Feb – An OPEN LETTER from animal protection groups to live exporters 

Animal protection sectors in Australia and New Zealand implore live export companies trading in Australia to immediately apply a voluntary suspension of all live animal exports to or through the Red Sea and suspend extended journeys to the Middle East via the Cape of Good Hope while the risk of attack remains.  Read the Open Letter below. 

14 Feb - Animals finally off loaded from MV Bahijah after 5.5 weeks on board

It is now confirmed that all animals have been off loaded from the live export vessel, and taken by truck from Fremantle Port.

Now they will be segregated and held at various feedlots and similar holding pens for the bio security checks. The Federal Government has stated that the next steps for the animals are a "commercial decision for the exporter", with predictions another live export journey is on the cards. See the Government's statement here.

These animals have already endured so much, all for a profit-driven industry that has no social license to operate.

Sign our petition calling for the planned phase out of live sheep exports to be introduced before the end of the first term of government. 


5 March 2024 - Animals previously stuck on board MV Bahijah to be re-exported to Middle East

On 1 March 2024, it was confirmed that 14,000 sheep and 1,000 cattle, who have only been given a mere 16 days on shore to rest and recover from the initial 40+ day failed MV Bahijah export mission, will now be sent back on board for a further 30+ days via a new route around Africa and through the Mediterranean, to its original destination port of Haifa.

Former live export vet Dr Lynn Simpson has described the bleak situation:

"As with all voyages, especially extended long-haul voyages, animals only have a fighting chance of surviving if they begin the voyage in peak health. I am deeply concerned that the very epitome of the experimental nature of this back-to-back extended long-haul voyage will test many. I suspect the physical and psychological capacity for many of these animals to safely endure yet another extended long-haul voyage by sea will have been depleted. I fear many will suffer and die due to their existing fatigue, compromised immunity, subclinical disease/s, along with the usual challenges a voyage poses to animals of communicable disease such as pneumonia. This has never been done before, and for good reason – animals suffer and die on ships. The unwritten mantra of live exports is, ‘more days, more deaths'."

Sign our petition calling for the planned phase out of live sheep exports to be introduced before the end of the first term of government.


An OPEN LETTER from animal protection groups to live exporters

An OPEN LETTER from animal protection groups to live exporters

Members of the animal protection sector in Australia and New Zealand pen an open letter appealing to live exporters


More updates as this story develops.  


Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications, FOUR PAWS Australia

Elise heads up the Communication team for FOUR PAWS Australia, working on campaign content, press and marketing, fundraising projects and digital communications. 


For over a decade, Elise has worked in the Australian animal welfare sector, writing and editing research reports on animal agriculture industries and heading up major animal welfare campaigns, with the goal of helping to create a better world for animals. 

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