Ballina veterinary surgeon Dr Peter Kerkenezov is still scarred by his experiences aboard two live export ships carrying Australian sheep to Saudi Arabia in 2002 and 2003. He says reports he submitted recommending improved practises were ignored by Australian authorities.
Ballina veterinary surgeon Dr Peter Kerkenezov is still scarred by his experiences aboard two live export ships carrying Australian sheep to Saudi Arabia in 2002 and 2003. He says reports he submitted recommending improved practises were ignored by Australian authorities. Jay Cronan

Haunted by cruel live trade

A BALLINA veterinary surgeon who worked on ships carrying live exports said his reports to LiveCorp highlighting animal cruelty and appalling living conditions were ignored.

Dr Peter Kerkenezov decided to speak about his eye-opening time aboard the live export ships following Monday night's damning ABC Four Corners program, which forced LiveCorp into the spotlight for gross abuses of animal welfare.

Dr Kerkenezov served as a vet aboard the Mawashi Tabuk on a voyage from Australia to Saudi Arabia in 2002 and on another ship on the same route in 2003.

He said that he had dispensed large quantities of antibiotics to the sheep on one ship “to keep them alive”, but it was the preventable deaths that had shaken him the most.

Each day stockmen would collect the dead sheep from the seven decks on the ship for autopsy by Dr Kerkenezov.

“The ones on their last legs, they would throw them down there too,” he said.

“So they would get hurled through the air and fall seven feet below onto the hard steel deck. Then they are mixed in with the dead and come up in the cargo net to be autopsied.”

On arriving in Saudi Arabia, Dr Kerkenezov was told to “shut up” while armed Saudi vets boarded the ship to test the animals for disease.

Dr Kerkenezov watched on helplessly as the Saudis used syringes to repeatedly stab the jugulars of sheep.

“I counted 18 jabs,” he said.

“We bust our guts keeping them alive to get them there and then they do what they do and we have no control over it.

“We report this but it's never stopped. At the end of the day it's still going on.”

A LiveCorp spokesman yesterday confirmed the Saudi vets were not trained by LiveCorp.

In a mandatory final report to LiveCorp on completion of both journeys, Dr Kerkenezov made suggestions for improving the hygiene for livestock to prevent disease and death.

He said he was not asked on another ship again.

A LiveCorp spokesman said final reports were reviewed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

He said ill animals were treated in accordance with normal veterinary protocols aimed at recovering their health.

“The vet works with qualified stockmen to detect and immediately treat any illness that may arise, and holds daily meetings with crew to discuss the animals' health and care,” he said.



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