Subject: Seal Alert-SA Jammed Packed 2007 and Request for a Pledge
Date: September 30, 2007
Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
Seven has always been my lucky number, and 2007 has proved no exception. I have got to tell you, that although we might be just a handful of people who truly care about Cape fur seals we are dynamite!
Just look back on what we have accomplished for the seals. We built a seal centre from nothing, equipped it and successfully rehabbed the first group of babies ever. We identified the sources of majority seal entanglement, reported it and developed an alternative that could still hang fish but not entangle seals. We firmly ensured through lengthy reports that the EU acknowledges and deals with the Namibian seal cull. We got two countries, Germany and Netherlands (Namibia's largest tourism market) to specifically ban Cape fur seal imports. We rescued and disentangled seals almost daily. We had so much media reporting on the culling in Namibia, that not only was the Prime Minister of Namibia forced to talk to us, where we make him watch his country's sealers club baby seals, through this pressure set up another meeting in Namibia where stakeholders in all Namibia's major industries attended to hear not the usual propaganda, but the true facts. Whilst we secretly did an aerial survey proving sealers were wiping out, even the largest seal colonies. As far as we know this forced them to stop sealing after just one month, as there were simply no more seals to kill, even trying other seal colonies, which failed.
Sadly for Seashepherd, they have decided to withdraw funding for Seal Rescue, preferring to protect humans instead of seals. Moving on, we have exposed MCM's practice of removing so-called problem animals, as well as publicly exposing Namibia's illegal seal-trophy hunting policies permitted by the Minister of Tourism, and most recently the export of live seal pups by this same Minister. Our Boycott Namibia website is really upsetting Namibian's, which is great. The EU Written Declaration, which now includes Cape fur seals, has moved to the next stage, where EU Commissioners have tasked European Food Safety Authority for a scientific review on the killing methods. All the major international ngo's were informed and invited, and as usual, Seal Alert-SA was kept in the dark. No matter, we have forced our way in, have submitted three reports, and I can tell you that after having seen the draft of this review, it is very, very positive, and in all likelihood Seal Products will be banned in the EU by year end. As Namibia exports all its skins, it will have to stop sealing, and we will soon be rubbing their nose internationally on their horrific slaughter of these endangered baby seals.
Although invited to the EFSA review in Italy on October 4th, unfortunately lack of funds prevents this.
A program is currently airing on German and US television called Wildlife Nannies, and Seal Alert-SA is the "Nanny of the Month", this week I have been bombarded by filmmakers to film programs on the seals. Bart has just completed one for 50/50 SABC, and this next week alone two other local wildlife programs are coming to film, plus a French film crew, and another from Korea. This year we have generated over 300 international newspaper articles, and one live interview on BBC.
On this subject, yesterday the Korean film crew wanted to film the seal island off Hout Bay and my work, I warned them conditions were very rough, but they insisted. They hired a larger boat to film >from and with me on the jet-ski alongside we head off. Big seas were pounding the small seal colony, and as they kept urging the skipper to get them closer, each one in totally amusement kept running to the side of the boat and vomiting over the side. Laughing my head off, I kept shouting, film them not me. Although they were all sea-sick, they just loved the conditions and the seals, and even when I tossed one film crew with camera, into one particularly large on-coming wave, off the back of the jetski, they loved it even more. It was a great day filming.
I have not spoken about the babies much, as it is confusing. The babies kept improving, then dipping. Then I rescued a very weak yearling, and our one baby Alpha, bonded deeply with this new seal. When the new seal was ready to return to the wild, Alpha became very upset, refused eating (still on tube) and started swimming in repetitive circles in our pool. The problems experienced with group pup rehab, is that the bond, continually gets diluted and you basically end up working with wild, wild pups, with no bond. We then rescued another baby, a female from the wild. So we had, two females and two males. I have previously continued rehab in the wild after 6 months of in-house care, so at nine months, I decided to attempt to rehab all four on the raft. They were terrified, and I was forced to hold them in a holding cage over-night so that they could acclimatize to their new surroundings.
The next morning all hell broke loose. As each one was released, he or she went their separate ways, seeing me as a threat and would not respond or come close. Alpha with the new rescued baby from the wild, immediately headed out the harbor, individually, and have not been seen since. No doubt the new pup will survive, as he is from the wild. Alpha has a slime chance, but learnt alot from the yearling he bonded with, and so might survive on his own. Regardless, it was his choice to leave and he really wanted to go into the wild. I was left with JT the female pup and Omega my most bonded pup. Neither would allow me to approach. JT left the raft, but was seen swimming nervously around the harbour. Omega was terrified, totally confused and would clearly not survive. I re-captured him, and took him back to the centre where he is much happier. JT kept swimming around the harbour, and eventually in late afternoon and pouring rain, she found the raft, but the cold and longest swim of her life, meant she become totally confused and very weak, she was unable to stand. She was clearly dying from the stress. I swam out and re-captured her too, at the centre, she was very weak and appeared to have brain damage, being unable to walk or stand. Two days of intensive nursing, brought her back to normal again, and so we are now one happy family of two babies, Omega the male, and JT the female.
Mumkin comes and goes for days away, but there are signs that he is slowly weaning himself into the wild, after 22 months of rehab. My greatest problem lies in how to rehab JT and Omega back to the wild, and then of course, next pupping season is just around the corner. The only way I can see, is to completely open the 4-walled centre to the sea, which means construction of a 40 metre by 2m high wall, two ramps from centre onto another pier outside and then one ramp into the sea. If I could accomplish this, then slowly I could get JT and Omega to follow me out the centre through a roller shutter door down onto the pier and sea. This way, it will prevent what previously happened and slowly return them to the wild and them learning to self-survive.
Unfortunately, after Seasepherd withdrew funding, funding has dried-up even further, and I am just too busy to try and fund-raise locally. An estimated R100 - 150 000 or USD $20 000 is needed to complete the building work. Without these funds, I do not think I can firstly continue my existing rehab, but more importantly, I cannot rescue or accept new babies which will start washing off their islands in the next 6 - 8 weeks, as this will just compound the problem. It is a real nightmare.
What is the solution? I personally feel that individual supporters who in the past made things possible, will not be the solution now, instead I feel its time Seal Alert-SA, becomes a man. What I truly believe is the answer, is not big once donations from a very few supporters (the pattern in the past), but instead a combined effort, where we each contribute a set amount monthly, every month of say $25. Supporters could do a monthly debit or stop order with their bank, or they could post me monthly $25 cheques or better still send post-dated monthly $25 cheques. It is unknown how many Cape fur seal supporters there are out there, because I do not control the websites, but I suspect it is less than 50 worldwide. Although over 10 000 have signed our various petitions with their contact emails.
My wife and I simply cannot continue funding 90% of our own work with the seals, and still dedicate 100% of my time to helping the seals. We need combined monthly regular support.
Imagine for a moment, considering our past achievements what we could do, if we numbered 500 instead of 50. I therefore am asking each one of us, to pledge to contribute $25 a month, monthly to Seal Alert-SA so that it can continue doing what it has done for the seals. I enclose my banking details and postal address. As I seldom interact with people, I am asking further that each one of you takes it upon yourself to get another 10 members to contribute.
Seal Alert-SA Postal Address. 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
Seal Alert-SA Pledge
I hereby Pledge to send Seal Alert-SA $25 monthly. It is to
be used exclusively for Cape Fur Seal Rescue,
Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection (Could each
50th member please fw the details of this pledge and email
, who will
in turn keep you informed if our pledge target of 500
has been reached).
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
Please List your Name, Country and Email Address.
Pledge Supporters :
1. Francois Hugo South Africa email@example.com
2. Nelda Hugo South Africa firstname.lastname@example.org