Dressed in a heavy woolly outfit, Jason Baker of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), presented a bouquet to the Australian embassy in Cairo.

He said the stunt was to thank the Australian government for imposing a temporary ban on live animal exports to Egypt, and push for the ban to be made permanent.

Australian live animal exports were temporarily suspended after a film shown on Australian television showed Australian exported sheep and cattle dragged off ships by their legs and ears and slaughtered within sight of other animals.

 

Footage released by PETA last week showed cattle being stabbed, slashed and stunned with knives and metal poles in Egyptian abattoirs.

 

"The Australians have done the right thing by suspending exports. But temporary bans will not work.This industry is too cruel," said Baker, who is PETA's Asia Pacific director. 

 

Australia is the world's largest exporter of live animals, with the Middle East being its most important market.

 

Slaughter

 

Egypt imports live cattle and sheep in order to slaughter them according to the Islamic practice of halal in which the animal must be slaughtered with a razor-sharp knife without being stunned.

 

PETA said Egypt had not answered its petitions on the issue so far but Australian ambassador Robert Bowker said there was "no thought being given to a permanent ban".

  

"What the Australian and Egyptian governments are doing is to bring about an arrangement to improve the treatment of animals and to resume exports as soon as possible," Bowker told AFP.

 

PETA kicked off its campaign in Dubai last week and was set to continue in other countries in the Middle region including Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

 

"I'm hot and I'm dying of thirst," the PETA activist said sweating in his woolly costume in the Cairo heat. "But this is nothing compared with the suffering of the animals."