Namibia in seal clubbing row

Johannesburg - An animal rights group on Monday called for Namibia to withdraw its team from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in September.

The Seals of Nam hoped a withdrawal would draw some attention to the killing of seals on the Namibian coast.

"We are making a formal request to the IRB to drop all Namibian fixtures from the World Cup," it said in a statement, which was apparently also sent to the International Rugby Board (IRB) and the SA Rugby Union.

"We are also appealing to the teams from South Africa, Wales and Fiji to show solidarity in this regard and publicly denounce the annual slaughter."

This is the third straight year in which the Namibian fisheries ministry has set a quota to cull over 90 000 endangered Cape Fur seals.

According to the animal rights group 85 000 baby seals are beaten to death at Cape Cross and Atlas Bay in Namibia, and 6 000 bulls shot.

The Southern African nation is one of only five in the world that kills seals.

A number of international animal rights groups, including the United Kingdom-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have condemned Namibia's annual culling of the endangered species. The Seals of Nam has called for the international community to boycott Namibian exports in protest.

According to PETA's website, the motivation behind the culling is increased demand for baby seal fur.

The Namibian team, who are unlikely to reach the World Cup playoffs, are set to play three pool matches at the global showpiece, against Wales, South Africa and Fiji.
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