AUSSIE sheep have been allegedly spotted for sale at unaccredited Kuwaiti markets.
This latest incident comes during an investigation by the Gillard Government into reports that sheep were mistreated and inhumanely slaughtered at one of the same markets last August, The Australian reports.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has confirmed it is assessing information and dozens of photographs provided by Animals Australia of Australian sheep being sold at Kuwait City's al-Rai livestock market and the Friday local market on January 17-18.
The group's local investigator snapped the images of the sheep - some of them with their Australian ear tags visible, while they are claimed to have been ripped out in other cases - at seven vendors. One seller had reportedly put up a sign in Arabic advertising the stall as "the centre for Australian lambs".
Some sheep had no shade or water and others were sick.
The incident is likely to re-ignite political debate about the $1 billion live export trade just weeks after the suspicious deaths in Mauritius of 65 cattle, some of which were pregnant, and the brutal culling of thousands of sheep in Pakistan amid a trade dispute last September.
Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White said it was not good enough that sheep were being so "blatantly" advertised and sold at a market outside the government's approved export supply chain, given previous claims were still being investigated.
"During the five months since we first alerted DAFF to breaches in Kuwait, thousands of Australian sheep have continued to be sold and brutally slaughtered in breach of regulations," she said.
"If the department needs additional resources to allow them to investigate expediently, then they should be urgently provided with them."
Ms White said the sale of Australian animals at "a notoriously cruel livestock market" needed urgently to be stopped.
"Preventing Australian sheep from being sold in such circumstances was a cornerstone of why the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System was implemented," she said.
A DAFF spokeswoman said the department had received the complaint and was "assessing the information" to decide whether to proceed with a full investigation.
"It is alleged Australian sheep exported under ESCAS arrangements are being offered for sale and slaughter at locations outside the approved supply chain," she said.
"DAFF is currently assessing the information . . . to determine if there is any basis to the allegations. (If) there is a basis . . . it will proceed with a full investigation."
The spokeswoman confirmed the complaint filed by Animals Australia last August - which included footage allegedly showing sheep being slaughtered with too-short knives and live animals placed on top of dead sheep - was still being investigated and the "findings will be made public".
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig introduced tough animal welfare rules in 2011 in the wake the Indonesian live export crisis, which saw trade suspended for a month after disturbing footage showed mistreatment of Australian cattle.
Read more at The Australian.