The Hague, 20 July 2007
Rt. Hon. Nahas Angula
Prime Minister of Namibia
Dear Mister Nahas Angula,
Action Against Poisoning fights animal poisoning in particular and supports animal protection efforts in general. As we fully agree with the goals, rescue methods and actions of Seal Alert S.A. we have a long standing cooperation with Mr. Francois Hugo. We share his concerns on the sorry plight of a dwindling Cape Fur Seal population. We are deeply concerned about the Cape Fur Seal culling in your country.
It is clear to us that especially the killing of suckling baby seals is against any human morality. The deliberate cruelty reflects a total disdain for animal protection laws and disregard of the value of animal life and probably any life for that matter.
This violation of human morality can never be justified by financial gain or labour policies.
We are convinced that cruelty towards animals breeds the same attitude towards people. It makes killing easy. So if we want to stop wars, we certainly want to stop a callous animal massacre that breeds the mentality to start wars.
For these reasons we beg you to stop the current culling of seals. And we hope that your meeting with Francois Hugo will be fruitful.
With kind regards,
Drs P.M. Donker
Action Against Poisoning
The Hague, The Netherlands
* . * .
Sent: Thursday, July 05, 2007 12:45 AM
Subject: Degradation of Sustainable Tourism around The Cape
To the managers of the travel agencies:
ANVR, TUI, Koning Aap, Elmar Reizen, Kristof Holidays, Globe Reisburo, Explore Namibia
Ladies and gentlemen,
For some years we cooperate with François Hugo from Seal Alert S.A. in South Africa to protect the Cape Fur Seals from extinction. François Hugo is not only unique in his offshore methods of treatment and care for rescued seals, but also the best advocate for this threatened species.
On 1 July 2007 the annual massacre on Cape Fur Seals started on the beach of the private property of the "De Beers" diamond industry in Namibia. This massacre is executed on an already dwindling colony of sick and undernourished protected animals. On the night of 4 July we have been informed that already more than 3000 seal babies have been killed. At the moment the Namibian massacre is the biggest threat for this species.
Many well-founded protests and - following other countries - a Dutch notification of an import ban on Cape Fur Seal products, could not withhold Namibian authorities to destroy unique protected animals in your beautiful travel destination.
Although your agency might be informed on the situation, it is interesting for your clients to know that for years South Africa and Namibia have made life impossible for the Cape Fur Seals. They have been exiled from the Cape Islands, their natural habitat. In fact Robben Island has been robbed from its name significance by government interference.
Although seals have no culinary interest in birds whatsoever, this government policy has been executed to protect the birds. The real reason is the protection of the fishing industry interests.
The seals have to survive on the beach or the low rocks at the waterline before the beaches around The Cape. On the beach they fall prey to land predators and men. For seals these are totally unnatural enemies for which they have no ability to defend or immunity to their diseases. The low rocks do not give adequate protection either as new generations of seal babies are wiped out by the high seas in winter storms.
In fact we witness an intentional genocide on the seals. Not only by the exile from their habitat but also by fishermen shooting off seals at sea for the fun of it and by the systematic culling of suckling seal babies and adult animals, the so called "harvesting of the young growth in a healthy population".
The mere word "harvesting" reflects the moral indifference towards culling. The fixed quota of the harvest is higher than the present healthy animals. It will be silent on the beach and the left carcasses are always a stinking problem. The responsible Namibian minister offered a solution by encouraging his people to start eating seal meat, but they don't have the appetite for it. An otherwise useful suggestion for removing the carcasses as people can eat something else whilst seals cannot. They are totally dependent on fish and consequently are more entitled to that diet than people.
Besides disdain for and destruction of their natural environment we also notice a remarkable denial and untruthfulness regarding this systematic massacre:
De Beers assumes an injured innocence but permits the killing on her private beaches that are not accessible to strangers. Authorities falsify data on the numbers and health of the seal population. Rescue and feeding of seals is a penal offence. The South African minister who started this policy underlined his destructive disposition by lobbying in The Netherlands for a massive elephant cull.
Extensive Dutch background information Nederlandse achtergrondinformatie on the history and actual situation can be found under this link. Complementary English information is found in the website of Action Against Poisoning.
In our view South African and Namibian authorities are executing an intentional destructive nature and environmental policy, despite all protests against the destruction of the seals and requests for example for the return of the seals to their habitat. The destruction of a species and its habitat will - not alone by the deeds but also by the underlying mentality - have its repercussions on the for these countries extremely important tourist branche. If a government looses track on its own touristic interests, only the concerned travel agencies can turn the tide.
We understand that a growing number of travel agencies includes "sustainable tourism" in their policies bearing in mind the demand for sustainable tourism and the decay by negligence of some travel destinalions of great value.
On behalf of Seal Alert S.A. and other animal protection organisations we call on you to warn Namibia - and regarding among others Robben Island South Africa as well - that their contempt of nature in general and the Cape Fur Seals in particular warrants a boycott of these countries as travel destinations.
We look forward to your reaction.
With kind regards,
Action Against Poisoning
PRESS RELEASE June 26, 2007
Public Call For Namibia To Announce A Moratorium on Seal Culling Policy
PLEASE WRITE TO:
Mrs Gray or Mrs Vanhees for attention his Excellency the
High Commissioner Wilbard Hellao,
Attached letter by Francois Hugo
Letter sent by Action Against Poisoning 28 June 2007
faxed to :
the Namibian Ministry,
Attention Permanent Secretary Nongula Mbako
on + 264 61 233 286 and + 264 61 224 566
Action Against Poisoning fights animal poisoning in particular and supports animal protection efforts in general. We have been informed on the impending seal cull in Namibia, starting on July 1, 2007.
Like us, the Namibian authorities have repeatedly and extensively been informed by Seal Alert S.A. on facts regarding the seal population in that region, so we will not repeat their fact-based arguments. The facts about the ill health and dwindling population of the seals and sealing rights are clear and the arguments against culling are solid.
Given the actual facts and arguments we are saddened by the stubborn Namibian policy to continue the seal culling – against international public opinion - under the pretext that a massive culling will not harm the seal population in Namibia. A pretext based on fabricated evidence as we cannot find any match with the facts.
This policy reflects a rock bottom respect for animal life and international animal protection legislation.
We cannot fathom why the responsible authorities choose to create an image of a destructive and arbitrary administration earning a few dollars on seal genocide. A choice that is extremely harmful to the image of Namibia as a successful emerging tourist destination.
If Namibia executes its culling plan we will not hesitate to mobilize our vast network of animal protection organizations and travel agencies by exposing this destructive behavior.
We call on you to stop the intended Namibian seal culling before it starts on July 1, 2007.
* . * .
Letter by HSUS
July 27, 2006
His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba
President of the Republic of Namibia
State House, Windhoek
Dear President Pohamba:
I am writing on behalf of the more than 9.5 million members and constituents of The Humane Society of the United States and its international arm, Humane Society International (HSUS/HSI), regarding the massive annual Cape fur seal hunt conducted in Namibia. The HSUS/HSI wrote the Namibian president in 2000 regarding the hunt, but received no reply. We hope your government will be more responsive.
The HSUS/HSI is aware that your government has issued a Cape fur seal hunt quota of 85,000 pups for 2006 – this is nearly 80% of the estimated/surveyed pup production for the season. Indeed, the hunting season (which was scheduled to start earlier this month) begins many months after the pupping season does, meaning much of the natural mortality (as high as 30%) that the seals face as pups will have already occurred by the time the hunters arrive on the rookeries. Thus a hunt quota of 80% of the initial pup production amounts, on paper at least, to a destruction of the entire remaining reproductive output for the year. Given the die-offs this population has experienced in previous years and the ever-increasing hunt quotas the government has issued since the 1990s, this kill level is obviously unsustainable and will inevitably result in a catastrophic drop in fur seal numbers in the next few years.
In 1994 this population suffered a massive die-off of 200,000 animals due to local oceanic anomalies, possibly the result of weather and ocean circulation pattern changes attributed to global warming. However, the quota for the hunt was not adjusted in any way to account for these losses, indicating that the management regime governing this hunt is neither science-based nor risk averse. In 2000, another die-off occurred, killing at least 300,000 animals, and again the response of the Namibian government was to be the opposite of precautionary – it extended the hunting season, allowing directed killing to add to the devastating unusual mortality the seals suffered that year.
Around the world, seals and sea lions have been suffering from epizootics of emergent diseases, often caused by species-bridging pathogens such as canine distemper virus. Organochlorine pollutants and heavy metals can depress the mammalian immune response; as levels of these contaminants continue to increase in the marine environment, it is likely that marine mammal epizootics will also increase in occurrence. This is far more likely to happen to the Cape fur seal population than others, as many of the animals are found within the DeBeers diamond mining region, which no doubt means contaminated run-off may be affecting the local fur seal food supply and thus the seals themselves. If an
epizootic or another die-off strikes the Namibian fur seal population on top of the hunt, a disastrous decline could result.
Now is not the time for any nation to increase its quotas for marine wildlife hunts. Frankly investing heavily in a fur seal-based industry at this time seems shortsighted and unwise from an economic perspective as well as an ecological one. Nature is unpredictable and many local economies that have attempted to profit from wildlife hunts have driven themselves to poverty and the animals to extinction. The HSUS/HSI strongly urges your government to reduce the quota for Cape fur seals for the rest of this season and in future seasons, and to eventually phase out the hunt altogether, allowing the local economy to make an orderly transition to other sources of income.
Namibia has recently received much positive media attention, showcasing its beautiful landscapes and family-friendly atmosphere. It is difficult to reconcile this hospitable image with the unsustainable and inhumane slaughter of fur seals. This hunt does not comply with the criteria typically applied to local, small-scale, artisanal wildlife hunts that many conservationists support. It is cruelly conducted and its management goals – the extinction of the fur seal colonies – are archaic. This hunt and its practices are an anchor dragging Namibia backward as it tries to move into the 21st century. Please do not allow your country’s positive image as a haven for those who care about the environment to be tarnished.
Thank you for your attention to our views on this important matter.
Naomi A. Rose, Ph.D.
Marine Mammal Scientist
Treaty Law, Oceans and Wildlife Protection
Cc: The Honorable Nahas Angula, Prime Minister
The Honorable Dr. Abraham Iyambo, Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources