Questions of animal welfare are being raised by the disappearance and possible drowning of thousands of cows at sea.
A ship transporting live cattle from New Zealand to China is being searched for in turbulent waters off Japan.
It appears that the ship, The Gulf Livestock 1, may have become a victim of Typhoon Maysak.
The 133.6-meter-long ship, crewed by 39 Filipinos, two New Zealanders and two Australians, left Napier, New Zealand, bound for Tangshan, China.
It left New Zealand on August 17 with a cargo of more than 5,800 cows, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The area in which it was last heard from, in the East China Sea, was being battered by the powerful typhoon, with winds of over 200 kph.
Just one sailor has so far been rescued according to the Japanese Coast Guard. He is said to be in good condition, after more than half a day in the water.
A New Zealand animal rights group told CNN the Gulf Livestock 1 disappearance illustrates why the export of live animals should be banned.
“These cows should never have been at sea. To make matters worse they’re likely all pregnant,” said Marianne Macdonald, campaigns manager for animal rights group SAFE NZ.
“This is a real crisis, and our thoughts are with the families of the 43 crew who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue,” Macdonald said.
Australia and New Zealand export thousands of live sheep and cattle every year, especially to the Middle East, where frozen meat is deemed unacceptable by many, especially at holy festivals.