Saturday, 7 January 2012

Train to Auschwitz

My day had been relatively normal. My partner and I were heading into the city for the afternoon when I noticed a truck in the left-hand lane of the freeway. It was a sheep truck but it took me a while to realise that this wasn't empty as I'd previously thought. As we passed it slowly I had plenty of time to realise it was full of sheep, some baking in the full sun on the top level, all of them crammed together in tight quarters with no room to move. I saw plenty of woolly bottoms, but I also saw lots of faces looking confused and sad. Down the length of the truck I made eye contact with many of the sweet-faced animals before the cruel-faced driver stared back down at me and then they were in the rearview mirror. I turned to my partner as I thought of the horrible fate that awaited them and burst into tears. "They're all going to die", I cried.

I've seen sheep trucks my whole life, heading towards the harbour to be shipped off to God knows where for slaughter. They always upset me, but I think now that I have a pretty good idea of what lies ahead for them, the despair was palpable. I can't save them. Every day hundreds of sheep, maybe thousands leave our port and sail out to sea, still cramped in those tight quarters, some dying in transit from exhaustion or dehydration, only to be greeted at their final destination by a slow tortured and painful death, usually after seeing their companions go before them. Stopping the live export trade is a tiny step in the right direction, but it's not enough, and we haven't even achieved that yet. I'm trying to do my bit by not contributing to that process anymore, but sometimes the sheer enormity of what I'm trying to stop just gets to me.

I only hope those poor friends didn't see me crying so that maybe at least for now, their worst fears haven't been confirmed.

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