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During my two-year (1994-95) working period in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, there was great fanfare surrounding the re-emergence of the live sheep trade. The Australian ambassador flew with a Saudi prince in the prince's private plane from Riyadh to the Red Sea, only to find that, yet again, during the sea voyage many of the sheep had either died or become extremely ill, as reported by the accompanying veterinary surgeon.

Being a regular recipient of RSPCA literature, approximately one year ago(?), I was glad to sign and on-forward to the Australian government, a pre-printed post card, urging the discontinuance of the live sheep trade.

I also took the liberty of writing my federal member with a similar message and stressing the disgusting conditions suffered by the sheep.   Having received what appeared to be a pre-formatted reply, I wrote again, this time in more detail, thus:

Given that women are not permitted to drive a car in Saudi Arabia, I saw much of two assigned Yemeni drivers, with whom I discussed a variety of subjects.   As the Muslim feast day was nearing, I was greeted by one very excited driver who proceeded to tell me how he had been keeping a sheep in a postage stamp-sized area, and that his eight year old son had, for the first time, carried out a slaughter.   The driver's eyes shone and his speech quickened as he described the knife and how his son had made so many attempts to slit the sheep's throat, resulting in its blood spurting everywhere.   He was just so proud of his son and would not listen to my cries of horror.

The main point of my second letter was to highlight how, contrary to all reports of strict slaughter rules being adhered to, the above ritual was common practice.

Again, I received a reply which appeared to be standard jargon - it did not address the point I was making. In frustration, unfortunately I failed to keep copies of any of the correspondence, hence my vagueness as to dates.