Date: September 18, 2006
Dear All Cape fur Seal Supporters,
Cape Town's Baby Seal Shame
Perhaps it might interest you to see reality turned into scientific figures. Many of you last year rallied around and helped with funding, to help Seal Alert-SA try and develop a mass baby seal rescue and rehabilitation plan. Your support was tremendous. Although only one out of the eight pups survived, the lessons learned were invaluable.
We have nine offshore seal colonies in South Africa stretching over 3000 km of coastline. One of these depicted below, is where we tried to save four last year. Most of the baby pups, found washed ashore are drowned, very few are found alive. The officially policy is to remove the alive pups and have them put down - killed. The already dead ones are removed by the Cape Town City Cleansing refuse removal department and dumped on municipal rubbish dumps.
This is an annual event, that has taken place for decades. Seal Alert-SA calls it an unfair 'Natural Cull' of these protected species. With so many baby seal pups being guarantied to drown, South Africa might as well resume sealing - as it clearly does not care about its seals.
These figures were taken from a recent scientific paper concerning the increase of white sharks in False Bay on members of the public.
For the past decade an average of 12 000 - 14 000 baby seals are born on the 2ha rock in False Bay. Densities are the highest in South Africa, where one pup (7kg), one cow (70kg), one bull (250kg) and one juvenile seal (100kg) are expected to survive for 50% of the lives over the next 12 months in one sqm.
The 9 105 that washed ashore (75%) in less than a month, do not include the ones that sank to the bottom or were eaten by 150 - 1 300 white sharks.
If an organization like Seal Alert-SA would seriously attempt to try and address and save and rehabilitate these baby victims. It would require somewhere in the region of 90 million rand or USD 13 million, each and every year - just for this one colony alone, for eternity.
It would require a daily budget to rescue and save 500 seals washing ashore, everyday of 5 million rand a day.
For the past few decades, a very simple solution, has existed that will cost nothing. Not a single cent. The solution ! is to allow these seals to have their babies on the 500 ha island nearby, a seal protected island since 1972, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1999, and island named by the early Dutch explorers as Robbe (Seal) or as it is known today, Robben Island.
For five years Seal Alert-SA has pleaded with everybody, the Public, the Media, Government Officials, Scientists and even the Public Protector. We even started an international on-line petition, http://www.petitiononline.com/RobbenSA/petition.html, and 2 353 have since signed.
We even got Marine and Coastal Management and their top scientist to point where the seals could be allowed to breed. In two months time another, 9 000 baby seal pups will wash off, drown, strand and be dumped.
Seal Alert-SA cannot appeal for funds, when there is a cost free alternative. It cannot ask anybody more than it has asked already, even sending a request to the UN and South Africa's ruling political party the ANC executive.
So all it can do is wait and watch, how the citizens of Cape Town, could not care less - and witness once again the death of 9 000 protected baby Cape fur seals.
We have nine such offshore seal colonies, where the seals are unnaturally restricted to just 2%. The more we talk - the less people listen.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA