South Africa can’t export horses directly to the European Union, thanks to a leftover from an outbreak of African Horse Sickness in 2011. The World Health Organisation set up protocols on moving animals around the world and we have been stuck in limbo ever since. Whenever there’s an outbreak, a two-year ban starts again, and there have been a few outbreaks since then. When the ban is up, a country can apply for an audit, which can take up to nine months.
Although South Africa has been disease-free for some time now and an audit was scheduled in April to free up exports from the local industry, the Covid-19 lockdown threw a spanner in the works and it has been postponed indefinitely.
Coronavirus aside, the delay is mostly due to other “trade irritants”, as Peter Fabricius referred to in his report on the first ministerial conference between SA and the EU in four years, in July.
Adrian Todd, managing director of SA Equine Health and Protocols, tells me we have been willing and able to export horses since the end of 2018. We have been left with only one option: to send horses offshore…