07. July 2021

Turkey | Kapikule | Inspection of live transports at the EU border

Day 1: Our team inspects a transporter loaded with sheep.

Day 4: Our team is inspecting a truck with bulls from the Czech Republic on board.

Day 4: The temperatures inside the truck climb above 30° C. This can cause heat stress to the animals.

Day 5: The young bulls arrive hungry and dehydrated in Kapikule even though they should have been supplied in a nearby stable in Bulgaria beforehand.

Day 5: There is only one through available in the unloading pens. This causes fights amongst the thirsty bulls.

Day 6: Inspection of a transport with “breeding” bulls from Austria.

Day 7: A convoy loaded with Danish heifers arrives in Kapikule.

Day 7: Our team is inspecting the welfare of the animals. Their destiny is a breeding stable in Turkey.

At the beginning of July, our team is on investigation in Kapikule, the Turkish side of the EU's external border. Another team is stationed on the Bulgarian side of the border. During the next days, our team will inspect live transports from the EU en route to Turkey. This time, we are accompanied by the EU politicians, Anja Hazekamp and Tilly Metz. They are both members of the European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry into Animal Transport (ANIT).

After our arrival in Kapikule, we discover a transporter that is parked in the blazing sun. From the distance we already hear the bleating of sheep. Inside the truck, we measure temperatures of over 35 °C. This is a clear violation of the EU transport regulation. Unfortunately, the sheep's ear tags are so dirty that we cannot find out from which country they originated from.

Next, we are on our way to the Turkish official veterinarians. They are responsible for checking the EU animals before they enter Turkey. The vets tell us that new stables are being built within the border. There the animals will be unloaded for veterinary checks in the future. Until the new stables are ready, the drivers will continue to unload the animals at a stable outside the border.

On our fourth investigation day, our team inspects two animal transporters loaded with young bulls from the Czech Republic. Transports from Hungary are currently banned due to hot weather. We suspect that many animals are transported via the Czech Republic instead. During our inspection, we measure temperatures of over 30° C inside the truck again. Only when the animals have been unloaded, it becomes clear how incredibly thirsty and hungry they were. According to the drivers, they have been fed in the Bulgarian assembly centre in Svilengrad. These stables are only 50 km away (as the crow flies).  Our teams have been complaining about the inadequate supply for the animals in these stables for years. Luckily, the drivers were instructed to buy additional feed for the animals at the Turkish stables.

On our fifth investigation day, we inspect another live transport with young bulls. The driver parks the truck in the blazing sun and refuses to switch on the ventilation and drinking system. Only when we inform his transport company the driver is willing to switch on the systems. But even then, our teams still measure temperatures of up to 33 °C inside the truck. The animals must wait in the truck for three hours before they are finally unloaded. They are so thirsty that our team must refill the drinking throughs several times.

On our penultimate day in Kapikule, we inspect a truck with seven "breeding" bulls on board. The driver reports a long traffic jam at the Bulgarian border. The special lane for animal transport is out of service again. He had to wait a total of four hours of until he was able to enter the Bulgarian border and another eleven hours until the veterinary inspection has been completed. In Turkey, the import documents must be checked. Another four hours of waiting time until the truck can continue its journey. For the seven bulls, this means a total of 20 hours of waiting time until all controls at the EU's external border are completed. It is well known that risks for the welfare of the animals are increasing with transport time. Especially, during the hot summer months.

On our last day, our team inspects a convoy of four live transports loaded with Danish heifers (young female cattle). We measure 28 °C inside the trucks. The temperature conditions are within the specifications of the EU transport regulation. We do not find any animal welfare violations with these four trucks. The exporter, who accompanies the convoy, tells us that the young cattle are pregnant and that their destination is a breeding stable in Turkey.

All in all, our investigation at the Turkish-Bulgarian border showed once again that live exports from the EU to third countries cause unnecessary animal suffering. Above all, the hot temperatures and the long waiting times at the EU border make the situation for the animals worse.