Namibia seal cull starting amid protests

2012-07-14 22:17

Windhoek - Namibia's annual seal hunt, which will see about 86 000 Cape fur seals slaughtered by end November, starts on Sunday amid outcry from conservation groups that brand it a massacre for trade purposes.

This year targets are to club 80 000 pups and shoot 6 000 bulls to death.

Namibian authorities maintain that what they call seal harvesting is meant to control the burgeoning population which threatens the fishing industry.

"Namibia's seal population has increased to the point where they exceeded by far the carrying capacity of the environment... therefore it is humane to curb the unrestrained seal population to a level where they can be sustained by the environment," the government said in a statement.

But activists slam these reasons as hypocritical, saying the hunts are carried out for commercial gain.

"There is no justification for the killing. This is purely a political and economic issue, with very little concern for animal welfare," conservation charity International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) director for Southern Africa Jason Bell told AFP.

According to the ministry of fisheries and marine Resources, there were 1.3 million Cape fur seals in December last year, but IFAW and others reject the figure because they are not allowed access to records to verify how the animals are counted.

Access is also restricted to the colonies along the Skeleton Coast during harvesting.

According to IFAW, Namibia's commercial seal hunt is the second-biggest in the world after Canada, which has also gained notoriety for the practice.

The offshore Cape Cross breeding colony, some 116km north of the central tourist town Swakopmund, is one of the two reserves where the killings take place, shielded from the media glare.

In the reserves, the seals are rounded up on the beach and hit on the head with spiked wooden clubs, sometimes repeatedly, to effect a deadly blow.

The carcasses are then loaded onto trucks and taken for processing in the factories of seven commercial licence holders.

The animals are harvested for their pelts, fat, which is used in beauty products and male sexual organs, believed to have aphrodisiac properties in Asia.

Seal products banned

However, Bell believed that a 2010 ban on seal imports by the European Union would raise awareness and considerably shrink the market for seal products.

Other countries that have also banned seal products include the United States.

"We wish more countries could follow suit, that would be the only way to curb this practice," said Bell.

According to South Africa-based activist group Seal Alert SA, Namibia is the only country that allows the hunting of nursing baby seals that still depend on their mothers, which disrupts the breeding process.

"We are concerned that nursing baby seals get killed and that is illegal by any norm," said director Francois Hugo.

The Namibian government has repeatedly rejected the allegations.

Last month the country's ombudsman turned down Seal Alert's bid, launched last year, for an immediate interdict against the slaughter.

The ombudsman's office said it did not have a mandate to recommend to the government to stop the culling, and that seals were not threatened with extinction under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

It added that harvesting was lawful and permissible under the country's Marine Resources Act.

Namibia is the only country in the southern hemisphere that is commercially hunting seals, according to Seal Alert SA.

Seal hunting also takes place in Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland.

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-07-15 02:15

    EISH!! and it all started with culling seals!!

  • Kozmo1975 - 2012-07-15 02:58

    One more thing to consider,Namibia is also treating it's tourists like terrorists and looking for anyone who takes pictures of the colony that had a fancy camera.To have the military out like Namibia does just because tourist are taking pictures of seals. What are you trying to hide Namibia? What exactly happens to these seals when they are slaughtered that you don't want the world to know ?

      willem.leroux.75 - 2012-07-15 08:37

      This is BS! I visit the area often and take as many pics as I want. Where do you get this cr@p idea from? I live in Henties Bay so I should know.

      Helio - 2012-07-15 08:37

      Theres nothing to hide in Namibia......we just dont need you delusional South Africans to come here and tell us what we need to or need not do.Sort out your own issues at home...goodness knows you have PLENTY

      jean.tredoux.5 - 2012-07-15 09:32

      Helio thanks to South Africans were boosting your economy since no one else in the world notice Namibia and shut up about SA, with our issues we are still superior to your country.

      jake.neumann.35 - 2012-07-15 09:33

      Why not look at the real reason behind the necessity to cull seals and that is a drastic decline in their natural enemies' numbers, sharks. Jason Bell and IFAW once again go for the easy and cheap route, they attack those who try to maintain a balance in nature, but ignore those Asian countries who are the real culprits with their shark fin fishing. IFAW is only in it for the money and they catch every fool that donates some of their hard-earned cash.

      yolandi.head - 2012-07-15 09:59

      I live in Namibia and yes, I am pretty sure they are trying to hide something

      tessa.connorton - 2012-07-15 15:26

      They probably do the same as the filthy Chinese do to dogs and cats, only difference being, the Chinese skin beautiful dogs and cats while they are alive, yhen maybe just maybe kill them by the same method i.e. bash their heads on the floor or a tree, if they don't die, then wop in the hot water alive! this world is making me sicker every day and I am ashamed at being a human, btw. I don't want an ear bashing for this comment' it's true and I don't listen to rubbish, watch rubbish or have dealings with rubbish, anyhing to back this up is a bonus. Many thanks, and a "peaceful" day to you all. More than most animals will ever get in this world! Please lets try at least to stop the seal culling ever agin though.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-16 06:34

      Jake, I think Great Whites are the biggest predators of seals, and they are not the main target of the shark fin industry. Not that I condone the shark fin industry, it is going to cause ecological collapse in our oceans. I think the seal clubbing has more to do with dwindling fish stocks due to overfishing. Humans are exploiting the creatures of this planet into oblivion. At some stage the entire system will collapse, and we will go down with it. We'll deserve it, we are the most selfish, destructive, cruel, creatures on the planet, we all deserve the punishment we (probably our children, not us) are going to ultimately face.

  • Cassandra Eileen Olivier - 2012-07-15 07:03

    It all comes down to greed

  • Nicorien Le Roux - 2012-07-15 07:12

    Russel-jack You are a shame to our continent. Why don't you just go away?

  • sekalf.nroc - 2012-07-15 08:17

    Namibia is backward! They risk that these few tourist visiting this country will also stay away out of protest - as it happened largely on the Faroer because of their whale grind.

      Helio - 2012-07-15 08:31

      Thats rich coming from a South African.....sort out the F#$%d up issues you have in your own country...see Jack Russel above.......before you say Namibia is backward.....stay there, please dont come to our country !!!! We dont want you here!

      willem.leroux.75 - 2012-07-15 08:39

      Just toured the whole of Namibia including the Caprivi area. Safer than SA in my opinion.

      yolandi.head - 2012-07-15 09:49

      Oh please....saFer than SA?? ....Hardly, death to farmers, robbing, mugging, raping, killing on a daily basis in Namibia. Read about the tourist who got robbed - 2012-07-15 10:22

      Yolandi. head. Thank you for your outright and correct statements made on this forum re the crime situation in South Africa. It is good that the world can see us for what we are despite the blanket mentality we wear. Ex Suid Wester.

      michael.deyzel.1 - 2012-07-15 10:58

      Namibia is backward? Yet they have 4G technology and here in SA we don't.

  • - 2012-07-15 08:22

    This seal culling has been going strong since the early 1960's. Why all the ballyhoo now, or is this simply a show of power by the conservation organisations. The Namibian government will never fully cede to the wishes of others maybe a token thousand or so.

      warmonger.everlast - 2012-07-15 18:23

      Let's hope you are right Zion, but if there is one thing I've learnt in my time on this eart it is to Never underestimate the power of a large crowd of dumb people, however misguided they may be!

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-16 06:52

      warmonger - some amongst them are probably dumb, but there are real issues people worry about amongst all the hysteria. Since when has it been necessessary to cull a population that is not fenced in? The "culling" term is used incorrectly - this practice is merely humans competing with seals for the same resource, it is to protect the fishing industry. Pity they don't use the same drastic action against poachers and humans that are willfully overexploiting a resource we all depend on. We're not all stoopud ...

  • Justin.D.Glenn - 2012-07-15 09:22

    The seals are not the threat to the fishing industry it's MAN.

  • tessa.connorton - 2012-07-15 15:17

    Cruel, not necessary! they steal not from us, we steal their food i.e. fish, we are their only hope, we must keep sharing this with everyone! Stop this NOW !

      warmonger.everlast - 2012-07-15 18:21

      Yes, leave the seals until there is NO MORE FISH, and then we will watch them [seals] die by their thousands and stink up the beaches... Some humans intellectual capability is akin to an amoeba

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-16 06:58

      The intellect of an amoeba is when humans refuse to aknowledge their role in depleting the very own resources they depend on for survival. But I guess its a much more convenient opinion, warmonger? Its all about competition for the same resource, but humans choose to ignore trying to control the impact other humans are having on this resource - which is 100 times more than the seals. Sure, maybe we need to kill some in order to compete with the critters, but throw in a few humans with that "cull" as well. Just being realistic ....

  • sisie.indola - 2012-07-16 07:53

    Nothing to hide - publish the photo's. Let the public judge or is the public just to harsh in it's criticism.

  • nataliespires - 2012-07-16 08:07

    Firstly, I understand the need to cull animals when their overpopulation becomes a problem, or “to control the burgeoning population which threatens the fishing industry.” But if this is the real reason, why do we still have ‘all you can eat’ seafood buffets at restaurants? Why are obesity levels still on the rise? Surely it is our greed that poses the biggest threat to the fishing industry?? “it is humane to curb the unrestrained seal population to a level where they can be sustained by the environment” Is it really humane to club seal pups to death? Humane termination of life for criminals on death row is death by injection – why can we not at least offer these seals the same level of humane culling? Our priorities are all massively skewed :(

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-07-16 10:48

      Not many humans care - hence the few comments on the issue. Much more exciting to read, the same old political stories, murder, celeb stuff, etc. REAL issues are too scary to come to terms with or think about. As you say, our priorities are massively skewed .... hence we are heading for a fall.

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