The bodies of several thousand cows now lay at the bottom of a Brazilian river in a sunken ship. There are also hundreds of carcasses washing ashore the same river and surely causing a disruption to the lives of nearby residents. The river port of Vila do Conde, which is in the Amazon region of northern Brazil, is the site where the ship travelling from Brazil to Venezuela sank earlier this month.
The ship wreck that occurred was made tragic because it was during the transportation of approximately 5000 live cows that belonged to the Brazilian beef company Minerva Foods. The company is unfortunately no stranger to such tragic outcomes as this is the second such transport of theirs to have sunk; the first occurred three years ago in 2012. Of the 5000 cows on board, only 500 of them reportedly made it off the ship, and even then only 100 of them managed to survive. The remaining cows sadly went down with the ship and drowned. They now sleep with the fishes.
The crew members were all evacuated prior to the capsizing as the sinking took about two hours to complete. The 28-member crew of the Lebanese-flagged Haidar ship were taken into custody by Brazilian authorities as they seek to determine what caused the ship to sink in the first place. The Columbus Dispatch stated that port officials are looking into a possible overloading of the boat or a leak in the hull.
Hundreds of carcasses of the other drowned cows from the sunken ship have begun washing ashore the Vila do Conde and other local beaches. Some local residents took the opportunity to get their meat fresh and loaded up trucks with the recently killed cows to take home. There remains an excessively high amount of cow carcasses strewn across the sands, rotting in waves.
Though not a common practice in many countries, the shipping of live cows in Brazil is done very often. Mother Jones wrote that according to reports from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, last year, approximately 646,700 live cows were exported and their value was estimated at a whopping total of 675 million dollars. The reason for the live export is because there are some countries, like Lebanon and Jordan, that prefer to buy cattle live rather than just as meat. They do this so that their customers have the option of choosing when and how to slaughter their cattle. For many Muslims the cows have to be killed in accordance with halal rule and that means buying a live cow to ensure the deed is done properly. For many other countries, the reason for buying live cattle is as simple as desiring to fatten the animals before slaughter.
One of the most immediate concerns about this tragic death of so many cows is an environmental one. Despite the few families that gained access to some fresh meat, the fact remains that thousands of cows are rotting on the ocean floor in a sunken ship. There are also hundreds of dead cows putrefying in the sun on the shores of beaches and rivers, and occasionally the partially sunken ship releases the dead bodies of the cows who were trapped in it to continue to foul the air around the site. Mother Jones reported that the nearly 2 million gallons of oil that the ship carried is estimated to cost over $30 million in environmental disaster. The fact that Brazil is currently undergoing a food shortage is another tragic element to the death of these cows.
Brazilian authorities are doing their best to try and contain the oil spill caused by the sunken ship, and divers have also been sent to try and push the dead cows downstream. Residents have also been warned by health officials to cease scavenging the decomposing cows.
[Photo Courtesy of YouTube Screencap]