The Business of Saving the Cape Fur Seals
Seal Alert-SA
Sent: January 19, 2007

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,

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From an old dilapidated room to a Seal Centre (view from the galley)


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From the dive/shower area. From the Roller-Shutter door entrance. Our two offices are on top.

 
       Finally I can report that after 55 days from taking possession of a dilapidated room, with no roof, crumbling walls, floors, no water, no electricity - with your tremendous help and support, we have turned it into Southern Africa's (Namibia and South Africa) in fact, (excluding a small centre in Mauritania/north Africa), Africa as a continent (and a big continent it is), only dedicated Seal Rescue, Protection and Survival Centre. At least phase 1, is now complete. I am extremely proud of this seal-feel-good centre.

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 View from my office and the babies swimming,
with the Namibian weanling on pool wall

 
       At the height of the dark grey line on the left wall, I would like to construct a tourist viewing mezzanine level, over the area where the rescue craft park (only half the width). It will measure 8m by 2.5m, and should be able to accommodate <20 "bird-eye" viewing tourists. Entrance to the mezzanine level will be by outside staircase and door. In addition, his and her toilet facilities. This is phase 3.
 
       The mark of a successful seal centre is the stamp of approval by the seals themselves, (and clearly this has already been proven over and over again), with one weanling who I have named Tara, who had fled from Namibia's seal slaughter fields refusing to return to the wild, instead he will flipper 700m down a pier road, past people and cars, just to wait to be let inside. I keep releasing him and a few days later he is back.

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Mumkin sucking his flipper, the babies will take 12-months to reach his size

 
       And I believe we are heading for a world first, the successful rehabilitation of three baby seals swept off their awash rocks off the Cape, between the 18th of November and 4th of December 2006. Never before has a group of baby Cape fur seals been successful rehabbed, (and it opens up all the possibilities of re-introducing them back to their indigenous, historical and extinct islands. So I have named the two boys, Alpha and Omega, and the little lady JanTara.

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       It seems my last newspaper article for 2006 (on the sealers causing the mass starvation of fleeing seals) has reached the attention of the United Nations Environmental Programme and was published on their website. I would therefore like to say a big thank you to the Namibian Media for their extensive and effective honest coverage of the seal culling issue in Namibia. With your help, we can save these innocent and amazing creatures. I understand from Veda of AnimalsVoice Magazine that the article on Cape fur seals/culling has made the cover story.
 
      Paul Watson of Seashepherd down in the icy Antarctic fighting for the Whales, on his 56 birthday wrote something that I meant to included in my last update. It reads, " If not for Francois Hugo, Dave Foreman, Jonathan Paul, Sean O’Hearn and a few others, I would despair of men. They give me hope for seals, diversity, integrity and for our beloved Galapagos" and in his comments on Greenpeace a few days later, " While Francois Hugo struggles by himself to save South Africa fur seals with a meager budget, using his own money and volunteering his time, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) raises millions on appeals for the same seals yet spends nothing on protecting them. In fact a $10 million dollar bequest recently received by IFAW is being spent on building a new IFAW office building in Cape Cod". I felt not only honoured but truly inspired, reading Paul's thoughts coming from a wildlife leader after 25-years for fighting tooth and nail, for our beloved marine wildlife - Thank you Paul.
 
     The below little ship, is something I would like to acquire to begin the re-introduction of baby seals back to their historic islands. If funds are available, I would like to name this ship in Paul Watson's honour.
This would be phase 4.

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     Adding to this, I have just read Animal People December edition (which they post to me free of charge) - Who Gets The Money - 17th Edition. It interested me to see African Wildlife Foundation $14 Million, Conservation Fund $69 Million, Conservation Intl $89 Million, Wildlife Conservation Society $137 Million, WWF $111 Million. I've worked with wild seals everyday for the past eight years, I have been sneezed on, peed on, pooped on, coughed on, lay on, suckled on and bitten so many times, for all intense purposes we are now "blood-brothers" having shared our pints of blood together, and yet not once in over 35 000 hours have I even seen or sniffed any of these big wildlife $420 million ngo's in SA rands, thats over 3 billion annually. Not a single sign - neither has the seals.
 
    Phase 2 needs additional funding. Here we need to construct a small ramp into the water (on the left hand side of left pic) - for existing seals on raft to haul-out be treated and disentangled. We will need to fence all this lower pier (to keep seals and humans away from sticking their fingers out) and I will need to lay a new concrete floor to allow for seal poo drainage.

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       I hope and trust you are all pleased that your funds have been well spent. Since making my first appeal on the 18th October, and acquiring the building on the 27th November, the following is a breakdown of the costs and expenses incurred. Building rubble removal, R2500; Electrical/Plumbing R 2257; Building Labour R 10500; Equipment/Assets R 15 226; Building Material R34 625; Fish Purchases R 23 750; Service 4x4 R 2500; Petrol R4000; Telephone R 3 600; Insurance R 3000. Total R101 700. Funds received in total R 85 000. Shortfall of about R16 000. I currently have R321 (US$ 44) in my account, so I am effectively bankrupt. In comparison MCM built a small (half the size of the jetty above) seal disentanglement facility at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, a few years back, for a cost of R300 000.
 
      What lies ahead for 2007, is very much dependent upon, my wife and I, earnings to generate funds or whatever funds come in.
       Phase 2 - R20 000.
       Phase 3 - R40 000.
       Phase 4 - R170 000.
 
      In addition, if I can secure the necessary permits, I would like to overall the Beauty Without Cruelty - Seal Supporters catamaran, and potentially use it for high speed seal rescues, whale disentanglement and taking <10 paying tourists to the nearby seal island on daily trips.
 
      To save a 1000 seal lives a year, find a way to re-introduce seals back to islands and campaign hard to end the Namibian Cull, I would in addition be incurring between R250 000 - R500 000 costs each year. Should all this be reached, I would then be 100% maximised and a 1000 seals saved.
 
      Potentially from the tourist viewing mezzanine level and/or the catamaran boats trips, Seal Alert-SA could be self-sufficient within one year.
 
      I further intend to name each area of centre, in supporters names, in each's honour.
 
      As I am sure your funds are similar to mine, try pestering a friend for some funds for the seals, for lately the only associates or friends I interact with is the seals, and as you know the only money they carry is the fur on their backs.

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Mumkin and the 2007 Babies

      This just in from Anjo in Holland www.Sealalert.org,
The Seal Alert clip as shown at our website has received a presticious price.
Edward, the filmmaker will be travelling to Dusseldorf, Germany, next week to collect the Adobe Environmental Award for this clip.
He will speak about Seal Alert at the film festival there and has assured me he tries to be a good ambassador for the Cape Fur Seals.
I trust him for 100 percent. This means more publicity for Seal Alert.
I'm happy about this. Hope you are too. Again a step forward.
I hope Edward will send us a pic soon, he is also screening this clip at the San Francisco Film festival.
 
     Funds and the babies prevented me joining the Italian Film crew in Namibia, but I arranged for Donna to speak for the seals - I look forward to seeing the end product.
 
      Jose of www.ActionAgainstPoisoning.com just wrote about Singer Maria Daines
Maria is going to do a song soon, she said for the cape fur seals :)
 
 
 
Herewith is my banking details if you can help further.
 
PS -You all are invited to pop in for a visit, and when everything is complete we will have an official opening.
To mail a donation directly  to Seal Alert-SA:

SEAL ALERT-SA
BOX 221
POSTNET
HOUT BAY
7872
SOUTH AFRICA

HEREWITH IS FURTHER  DETAILS FOR BANK TRANSFERS:

ZAR is South  AfricanRand

More information to be able to send the money via  internet:

SEAL ALERT-SA ACC : 911 2201 321
BRANCH CODE : 632  005
SWIFT CODE : ABSAZAJJ
BANK : ABSA
SA NAT.CLEARING CODE
BIC: (SWIFT-CODE)  ABSAZAJJ
Bank name : ABSA
Address : DELPHI ARCH OFFICE PARK, RAATS  DRIVE, TABLE VIEW
City/code : TABLE VIEW, 7439
Country : South  Africa

For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
021-790 8774
 
The Business of Saving the Cape Fur Seals - Part II
Sent: Jan 22, 07


Dear All Seal Supporters,
 
      I am glad that many of you like the new Seal Centre, and to those of you that sent in donations - Thank you it really helped.
 
      What lies ahead in 2007. I see the Marine Mammal Centre in the US receives $USD 6 Million (SA rands R42 million). According to the Seal Conservation Website www.pinnipeds.org there are over 79 dedicated Seal Centres worldwide, who collectively rescue about 3000 seals annually from a worldwide population of all species of seal of some 30 million seals, sealions and fur seals. That means 0.01% of the seals get help, with the average centre rescuing 40 seals a year. According to some the costs of seal rescue per seal is 1000 pounds or 2000 dollars or 14 000 SA rands.
 
      On the African continent, there has never been a Seal Rescue Facility to assist the only species of seal (Cape fur seals) found along its southern tip. With Seal Alert-SA's past rescue of 1000 seals a year, single-handedly our efforts account for 1/3 of the world's total seal rescues. When considering that Namibian sealers bury up to 900 seals in a day, and a further 1/3 to 1/2 starves to death (250 - 500 000) yearly, who each could be rescued, the numbers are staggering. This is besides the 91 000 being culled, or those thousands drowning in fishing trawl nets or shot or the 40 000 baby seals washing off small inappropriate awash rocks. This is also besides the natural mortality of 30%, caused by shark attacks etc.
 
     I could find the world's total seal rescues dying in one day along the Namibian coastline. In fact, the Namibian sealers cancel the world's seal rescue efforts in just 4 or 5 days of clubbing.
 
     Clearly something needs to be done urgently to save this species. It is also a fact, that these big wildlife ngo's with their hundreds of  millions of dollars wont help, as they have even bigger amounts sitting in banks earning interest.
 
     So how does one go about saving an entire species of over 1 million seals? How on earth, does one ensure that there is a minimum survival rate/growth of 10%? How does one ensure 100 000 seals survive each year and die a natural death from old age?
 
     Although Seal Alert-SA has been going since 1999, with initially a handful of support from Paul, Seashepherd, Herbert, Phil and Les/Madam Marchig, and then in the last two years, Thanks to all of you, with such support from people like Earle, Beryl, Jose and Marius, Paola, Menkit, Nikki, Tara, Diane, Fran, Rosie, Kenny, Mary, Eddy, Anjo, Damar - I could go on and on - we have tried to assist Seal Alert-SA. Because your funds, did not go on administration, investments, salaries or personal expenses, although only numbering in the tens of thousands of dollars over the years - we have built up quite an array of seal dedicated rescue equipment. 4x4, beach buggies, two rafts, catamaran, high speed rescue boat, two jetski's, underwater scooter, wetsuits, drysuits and camera equipment, and now a Seal Centre. In fact, although Seal Alert-SA is probably the most poorly funded, I do believe that we are the best equipped in the world.
 
     The problem to campaign and rescue seals each year costs money, which costs me between R250 - 500 000 (USD $35 - 70 000), most of it in Seal Rescues. Lack of funds over the years, translates into me being only 25-50% effective, and the bottomline to all this - is that Seal Alert-SA is basically a sinking ship. Financially my wife Nelda and I, are destroying ourselves, and we are not turning the tide (the funds for the really important things - the big things). Islands, Namibian Culling etc.
 
    My biggest problem in a funding sense, is that I rarely interact with potential funders, in fact, I hardly see people at all. My days are spent either with the seals or out at sea, sometimes months go by, and the furtherest I have driven in my car is down to the harbour. I had hoped that some of you, could become my go-betweens between potential worldwide funders and myself, but after eight years, one has to finally acknowledge three things. I am useless at fund raising, I am not very good with people - and believe it or not, I type with a single finger. The reality is, unless things change, this species is not going to be saved, and hundreds of thousands will suffer terribly each year in and each year out. I will go bankrupt.
 
    Thanks to you all, I believe the centre will provide us with the means in future. I believe the experience the tourists will have visiting the centre (when it is complete), will be unlike any other, and we will within the year, have a thriving tourist seal viewing business. But, we need to complete the centre first, and make sure its truly operational. Herbert of Seashepherd, recently wrote, Congratulations to the progress made on the seal centre. To create a viewing facility will certainly become a tourist attraction which hopefully will generate  some income. I also read with interest about the millions collected by the green corporations of the NGO world. It saddens me and I find it totally unacceptable that so much is collected and so little achieved by those who make money out of our environment's misery. Our own position at this point in time is that we owe in excess of US$ 1.100 000.- on the purchase of the 'Robert Hunter' which currently is deployed to the Antarctic waters along with the 'Farley Mowat'. Had we hundreds of millions, we could virtually guarantee to shut down the Japanese whale and dolphin slaughter for good.
 
    Perhaps this is my problem, I always aim for the minimum. Hell, if I had just one million rand (USD $140 000), I know I could save the entire Cape fur seals. I believe the centre will give me that means, but we still need, over and above my annual costs of (R250 - 500 000), approximately R60 000 SA Rands or less than USD $10 000.
 
    Paul Watson abroad the Farley Mowat has just informed me,
Dear Francois,

We are down here in the Ross Sea looking for whalers.

I wanted to follow up with you on our offer to support you.

We had a Board meeting on December 31st and I put this forth as a motion.

We decided that we would like to take this on as a project.

What we would like to do is to begin on April 1st.

We would hire you at $35,000 U.S. per year. We would then organize a fund-
raising project with our development director Michael Moore to raise an
additional $40,000 U.S. per year to be directed towards your work.

Our goal is to raise and provide $75,000 a year towards your efforts to protect
the South African Fur Seals.

Instead of hiring you as a Sea Shepherd field agent we would like to cite Seal
Alert as a project supported by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Our goal is to remove some of the time and effort you put into fund-raising and
allow you more time for the seals, both to rehabilitate seals and to oppose the
slaughter in Namibia.

Let me know if this project meets with your approval.

What would be required of you in return would be to provide photos, updates and
an annual accounting for funds received.

Sincerely

Paul Watson  
      Way back in 1999, when my wife and I were living on an old wooden trawler, not knowing what Seal Rescue would entail, whilst the authorities were screaming down our neck, arresting us, defaming us and confronting our every move - Paul and Herbert of Seashepherd, out of the blue stepped in with support, and a rubber-duck to help rescue seals, and the rest as you know is history. Like then, when we needed support the most, Paul was there, and now eight long years later, once again. Its time Seal Alert-SA gives Paul a medal instead of Paul giving me one.
 
     So in April, thanks to Seashepherd, and each one of you, I will be funded to get the job done. I can rescue my thousand seals, and save their precious lives, and have funds to go after the Namibian sealers and the banning from islands, drowning in trawl nets and illegal shootings. Did you know, all footage that exists of the Namibian clubbing, comes from a 15 second tape, (the time it took to turn off the camera), when Namibia held a staged media day, for them to witness the "controlled" clubbing. As the clubbing started, cameras were ordered turned off. Although sealing has raged on for decades, and where millions have been slaughtered, this is all we have. The reality, over the 150-day annual sealing, with fleeing and terror, is something that has never been recorded. Cleverly the Namibian Ministry allowed a controlled cull to be witnessed, which is clearly not reality.
 
    So in this my last appeal, as Seashepherd is already in debt for $ 1.1 million, I ask if we can make one final push, to complete the centre (for the tourist viewing facility). I would like to ease this financial burden to Seashepherd as much as possible, and I know the Seal Centre, will give us that means.
 
    We may be few, but we are indeed mighty. Lets make 2007, the year of the Seal.
 
PS - Some of you have enquired about have I changed my views on a single pup bond. Not at all. Omega has bonded and answers my call. Alpha wants to bond, but refuses to answer me. Alpha tries to displace Omega but he will have none of it. Little JanTara, just hangs on the side-lines. For the moment, we have a working system, how the non-bonding will effect JanTara and Alpha in the months to come, is yet to be discovered. At the moment, we have three adorable, happy, healthy baby pups - and if I can get them all through, it will really make my years of effort worthwhile.
PPS - You can also send cheques direct to my postal address.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA