By Steph Hale
People from all walks of life lined Stirling traffic bridge in Fremantle last Saturday to take a stand against live animal exports, thanks to notice of the event posted online.
The sixth annual Peaceful Silent protest, organised by not-for-profit group Stop Live Exports, attracted approximately 850 participants.
Many of the protestors found out about the event through the Stop Live Exports Facebook page and the event they created providing information about the day.
One of those participants was Angela Gilbert, from Fremantle, who recently became interested in the ethical side of consuming animal products.
“I saw a video about factory farming on YouTube about six months ago, and since watching it I haven’t eaten meat,” she said.
“During this time I’ve joined a few Facebook groups that offer support to veggies and vegans, and often members will share events such as the live export demonstration, which is how I found out about it.”
Janet Aberle, another activist, was less impressed with the turnout.
“It was good, but compared with the number of people who clicked ‘attending’ on Facebook it was a bit disappointing,” she said.
“There’s a difference between raising awareness and getting people off their bums to actually show up.”
The Stop Live Exports Facebook page has amassed a following of 13,520 people, with a similar community group Ban Live Export reaching 21,928 likes.
The group also used social media site GoFundMe to raise $3,000 for an aerial banner for the day that read “IT’S SO CRUEL…STOP LIVE EXPORTS.ORG.
The organisation’s opposition, a group called Support Live Exports, also uses social media to spread their message.
However, their account has been inactive since July 2014.
Angela Gilbert said she participated in the event because she wanted her voice to be heard.
“It shouldn’t be left to the bean-eating, hemp-wearing activists this time!” she joked.
More than three million live animals are exported from Australia every year and eight percent of those will be slaughtered whilst fully conscious.
In 2011 the combined worth of the sheep, cattle and goat live export industries was more than $965 million.
Overwhelmingly, these animals are exported from Western Australia, with 69% of live sheep exports coming out of the state in 2011.
To find out more about the protest itself, watch this video.