KBR Wild Horse and Burro News

NSW Government Accused of Coverup


Story date: March 9, 2001

The purpose of this feature is not so much to dredge up the sins of the past as it is to ensure that they are not repeated!
Webmaster's Warning: This story is gruesome and the images used to substantiate it are very disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lyall Sempf is a naturalist who studies brumbies (Australian wild horses) and their habits and is writing a book on his findings and the findings of others. Mr. Sempf has included in his studies the brumbies of the Guy Fawkes River National Park, New South Wales, Australia. This past October hundreds of brumbies were slaughtered in this park by the government department known as the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service ( NSW NPWS ). The following is Mr. Sempf's account of this event.

Hundreds of brumbies were shot from the air over a few days by three gunmen in helicopters. Due to the nature of the terrain being rough and covered with trees, this slaughter of the brumbies resulted in more than one bullet being needed for many of the horses. One unfortunate horse was found with eleven bullet holes in him. The day after the slaughter had ceased, an acquaintance of mine found horses still alive and dying an agonizing and painful death. This acquaintance of mine also told me that he found bullet holes in the brumbies in every possible part of the body - the head, neck, withers, shoulder, chest, back, stomach, rump and legs. When I was in the park a few weeks ago I found a stallion with a bad lameness in his front left leg. I was unable to get close enough to see whether it was a natural wound or a bullet wound. I will have to go back again and find him.

I spoke with one of the Park Rangers in January 1998 while in the National Park. He is the one who was partly responsible for the organization of the slaughter, and he was one of the three who fired the bullets. I never advised him at the time why I was in the park. The discussion of brumby culling was brought up when one of my friends talked about the brumbies in the park. He told my friend and myself that the National Parks and Wildlife Service were scared to shoot the brumbies due to fear of public opinion.

The October slaughter went ahead in secret with no advice given to, or consultation sought from the Australian public or Animal Welfare Groups. When the slaughter was discovered, one of the claims of the NSW NPWS was that the brumbies were starving and dying from lack of food in the park due to bush fires that had gone through the park. There were bush fires in the park, but the brumbies were well and had shiny coats as can be verified by photos.

The slaughter was carried out quickly, in fact so quickly that a proper check wasn't done to ensure that people weren't in the park during the slaughter. The famous National Horse Trail goes through this park. Two ladies from New South Wales rode their horses right into the slaughter zone. They were quickly advised to leave the park and were told that the riflemen were shooting feral goats and pigs.

Estimated numbers of remaining brumbies has been put at about 45. I have seen 10 alive, and signs of about another 10 in the area in which I searched a few weeks ago.

The well respected Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( R.S.P.C.A.) has laid legal charges against the National Parks and Wildlife Service. They have a good case, but as they are fighting the government, it will be difficult. If the government does win the court case, it will be a hollow win in the eyes of many Australians.

"Foals were always shot first before their dams, as required by FAAST protocol."
Dr. Anthony English, Univ. of Sydney, in his report justifying the killings as "humane"
Foal with shoulder blown apart by bullets.
This mare was either shot foaling, or lay down to foal after being shot. (October in Australia is when many foals are born.)
The marks on the ground show that this brumby kicked for a while after being shot before he eventually died.


Check out Part 2


Mr. Sempf reports that the NSW government contracted the services of Dr. Anthony "Tony" English to do an independent report on the October cull. Mr. Sempf argues that Mr. English's report is incorrect and is biased in favor of the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. To support his argument, Mr. Sempf has provided the following quote from Mr. English's report.

Section 89 paragraph b. "That the shooting was carried out in a humane way, under approved protocols designed to kill the horses as quickly as possible."

    Mr. Sempf comments; Fortunately the Minister for the Environment has banned aerial culling in NSW due to public outcry of the October cull.

Section 90, recommendation f. "That the community continue to be made aware of the effective control of feral animals in Australia by all appropriate means including aerial shooting. The recent stark images of shot horses, and the emotive language used by some commentators must be countered by effective education concerning the threatening processes confronting our native fauna"

To which I as webmaster must add, Mr. English's report sounds like a bunch of brumby manure to me.


What has happened cannot be changed but horse enthusiasts and advocates can help ensure that this travesty is not repeated.

Mr. Sempf asks concerned parties to help in the following ways. (Contact addresses are presented further down in this feature.)

  1. Contact the Australian R.S.P.C.A. to confirm what I am saying is true. Get the facts from them.

  2. Let your protest be known to New South Wales Government ministers, and the government department New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service who were responsible the slaughter.

  3. Let your feelings be known to the Australian Embassy in your country.
  • Lastly- If you would like any more information please feel free to email me. I have the names of the three men who fired the bullets. I also have access to photos taken just after the slaughter.

    Mr. Sempf's email address is lksempf@iprimus.com.au.


Mr. Sempf has kindly provided the following contact information. (A link that includes all of these email addresses in one 'click' appears below.)
  1. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, New South Wales Headquarters:
    email: rspcansw@ozemail.com.au
    Phone: your overseas access code + 61 2 9709 5433
    Fax: your overseas access code + 61 2 9796 2258

  2. New South Wales Government:
    The Honourable Richard Amery, Minister for Agriculture
    email: richard.amery@parliament.nsw.gov.au
    Level 17, "Parkview",
    157 Liverpool Street
    Sydney Australia 2000
    Fax: your overseas access code + 61 2 9372 0199

    The Honourable Bob Debus, Minister for Environment
    email: bob.debus@parliament.nsw.gov.au
    Level 19, Roden Cutler House
    24 Campbell Street,
    Sydney Australia 2000
    Fax: your overseas access code + 61 2 9281 1115

    Mr. Sempf further notes, "A number of people who have emailed the two ministers were immediately quoted the 'independent' English Report in their reply, clearing NPWS from any inhumane treatment of brumbies. It may be a good idea to initially start your emails by giving your views on the English Report, then moving on to the events of the brumby slaughter."

  3. National Parks and Wildlife Service Centre:
    email: info@npws.nsw.gov.au
    Phone: your overseas access code + 61 2 9251 8482

    National Parks and Wildlife Service, Dorrigo Office:
    email: dorrigo@npws.nsw.gov.au
    Phone: your overseas access code + 61 2 6657 2309
    (The Dorrigo Office is directly responsible for the National Park)

Webmaster's comments: Since tourism plays a significant role in Australia's economy, I would suggest that it might not be a bad idea to explain to their Department of Sport and Tourism that the millions of horse lovers and wild horse advocates throughout the world would be most reluctant to spend their vacation dollars visiting a country where they are constantly reminded of the government's atrocities against the animals under its stewardship. The email address for Sport and Tourism's Public Relations Team is SportTourism.web@isr.gov.au.

It might also be a good idea to contact the New South Wales Agriculture Animal Welfare Unit. Their published email address (which recently has stopped working) is animal.welfare@agric.nsw.gov.au. Their website address (which works) is http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/reader/5089


If your browser will permit it, we have provided a link that will simultaneously put all of the above email addresses onto one email message if you CLICK HERE.

Please note that you may get a "bounce" from the NSW Animal Welfare Unit. At the moment they seem to not be accepting mail at their published address. Rest assured that this "Collective" link also includes the address of their Managing Veterinary Officr so someone in the agency will receive your note.

Continue to Part 2

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