SUNDAY INDEPENDENT SEPT 2007 :



SI_NWS_E1_020907_p09





Donna Collins - Reporter in Namibia asked me to pass this on
Fw: aluta continua!
Scroll down for her text, please.


From: Seal alert SA sasealion@wam.co.za
Date:
August 1, 2006 8:16:33 PM GMT+01:00

Subject:
Donna Collins - Reporter in Namibia asked me to pass this on

aluta continua!

unknown    

Dear All - How on earth and in all the good seas, does Seal Alert-SA thank and commend such a courageous reporter and her legendary editor Hannes Smith of the Windhoek Observer ? In only the best way I know how - "I give to them the greatest gift - the gift of living life".
 
     Next years pupping season will too have its victims in this conspiratorial "war on seals", and although it will cost me over ten thousand rand in feed costs alone, and require my doting parenthood for the next twelve months and over two thousand hours to save its life - I will do so again and again - in the belief that there are people out there like Donna and Hannes. Donna and Hannes, the next baby seal pup has your names written all of it.
 
     As will the pups named after Elma Robberts, Brigette Weidlich, Mbantjiua Ngavirue, Christof Maletsky of the Namibian, and Eleanor Momberg and Tabby Moyo of the Sunday Independent, Elise Tempelhoff of the Beeld and Adam Welz of Noseweek, and Seije Slager of Trouw; Sara and Lisa Chait of CapeTalk, and Dagmar Wittek of Johannesburg Radio, and Stan of Pretoria Radio, Lea Budge of Australian Radio, and please forgive if I have omitted anyones name.
 
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

----- Original Message -----
From: donnanews
To: SealAlert-SA
Sent: Saturday, January 09, 1904 10:29 AM
Subject: aluta continua!

Hi Fancois
Would you like to pass this onto your media "friends" and seal friends on my behalf.
Regards
Donna Collins

"Aluta Continua"the struggle continues.

This message is for all you journalists out there who are knocking the relentless efforts of Seal Alert SA, in their desperate fight to see that justice is done  for the seals - and that the inhumane mass killings of horrendous proportions are stopped and re-adjusted.

I am a Namibian journalist writing  for the Windhoek Observer and live in Swakopmund. My paper,  whose editor is the legendary Namibian journalist Hannes Smith ran two stories so far on the seal culling operation.  My efforts to interview Albert Brink on the seal issue, owner Sea Lion products factory in Henties Bay, fell flat yesterday when I was refused  any access to the factory.  He is orchestrating the cull or "harvest" at Cape Cross.  

The Ministry of Fisheries is on a whole is tight-lipped but stick to their guns as this is an annual event,  and issued some releases and statements in Windhoek to the local media in defense of the initial anti-campaign attack. They stated that Namibia must utilise its natural resources, plus the people should acquire the taste for "seal meat." One reporter I know from a local coastal newspaper, who already told Hugo to "get lost", boasts having eaten seal meat which he claims is "delicious like game", and regularly drinks the oil.

No one has been allowed to enter into the "forbidden" area for fresh photo material, except the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation last week. I have just spent an hour on the phone (again) trying to get comment from someone at the Ministry regarding the issue, but was kept on hold, passed to the directorate of resource management,  back to a PA, then the switchboard - then cut off.

Brink is the 'main man' who has many years of seal culling under his belt,  and says he is carrying out orders on behalf of the Ministry of Fisheries, who overnight increased the quota from 60 000 to a whopping 85 000.  He is also running a thriving operation together with a couple of partners at the seal factory, pushing out seal products for the tourist industry. His wife runs a seal boutique in Henties Bay.

There is a Mafia type secrecy over the seal cull issue in general - an agenda that makes you wonder if this killing is considered so "normal", then why hide it. They start to kill shortly before  day break when all is quiet. Brink refused an interview with me at short notice yesterday (31 July), and blew his top when I suggested taking photos  of the seals arriving at the factory, where they are offloaded every morning after the "harvest". "You people are just distorting the facts," he snorted over the phone.  "I'm sick of the bad press, we kill sheep and cows, so why not seals."

I am scratching my head to find out what bad press. Aside from a few articles here and there, the subject is being relatively ignored. We have had no foreign press here. And the more a man like Francois Hugo who has  balls to fight for this cause talks out,  the more he is being challenged. Yes, he pummels us with information which cannot all be translated into articles, but the bottom line here is - there is an urgent  message to re-address this seal plundering which cannot be ignored - and as journalists we shouldn't.

Funny how everyone dropped everything when Angelina Jolie arrived in Namibia to have a baby. People scrambled for the slightest crumb, paying fortunes for a smattering of information of this Hollywood star. Pages of papers, tabloids and magazines around the globe were filled with speculation, rumours, facts, non facts as the world hungered for more on the couples every move. I know I was there. Namibia was the new Hollywood.

Yet, when the same country a few weeks later embarks on the mass killing of the biggest ever quote of seal pups ever, no one has a word to say. It just goes to show where the priorities of the media lie - no wonder all our species are dying out.  I am not saying we all need to be the official mouthpiece for Seal Alert, but are you telling me that a seal slaughter story of this magnitude doesn't sell papers, doesn't make headlines and prick the consciousness?  Every day over 600 seals are clubbed to death. Whether we are in favour of it or not. Where are you Carte Blanche????? Where are you Sunday Times, Beeld and all those powerful voices.

Today I spoke to a visiting Brit from a large animal rights organisation presently in the country. He previously went to the culling fields at the Cape Cross, and explained in gruesome detail how it works. "It's not a pretty sight". And to quote him he said. "The animals  are chased into a corridor by two groups of clubbers who bash away at these creatures heads - and then plunge a knife into their hearts - hopefully to cause instant death - but I doubt that always.

"You can imagine how accurate the blows must be after swinging that club for a couple of hours - their arms get pretty tired I am sure," he said cynically. "This is still considered the cruelest method by world standards - and when they have finished their nasty business they cover the blood splattered beach sand with more sand so the tourists can walk in and view the lovely seal colony.

"I had the misfortune of stepping into one of these freshly covered area's and was up to my ankles in blood. Many people in Europe won't come to a place where the people are hammering their animals to death, so it must have an effect on the country's tourism I am sure."

There are those who believe that this slaughter is a solution to the mass starvation the seals have suffered in their thousands for years due to the dwindling fish stocks in the sea. And there are others who blame man for the interference in the first place.

But by excusing ourselves from putting pen to paper we as the media are justifying this killing.

I'll help where I can. Donna Collins (Photo. journalist Namibia)
contact:
donnanews@africaonline.com.na

"If Brink, wants to slaughter seals, buy some land, fence it, buy seals, feed
them , medicate them, be responsible for any disease out-breaks they may
cause - keep them confined, and if he can then run a profitable business on
these terms alone, good for him - until then these seals belong to everybody - they are wildlife and we will have a say in how they are protected and not killed." Francois Hugo Seal Alert SA