Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,
Cape Fur Seals in 'Good-Hands', But Whose Hands ?

From: sasealion@wam.co.za
Date: June 6, 2008
 



BB, Derrick, Tom, JM, JT,Lucky, Robbie and Tom
 

       The Babies - Many people ask how I can tell the seals part from each other, I tell them its easy, its like knowing your own children. See for yourself, each very different and each with a distinctive character and personality. Welcome to our 8 babies, each born in December, almost all from a different seal colony, each with a terribly sad story and now six months of age, except JT who is a year older. You are looking at 8 seal faces who are about to make history, the first group of 8 baby Cape fur seals to ever be rehabilitated successfully together as a group. I am somewhat proud of this achievement, as each is very happy, rather plump and just adorable. 3 females and 5 males, enough even to re-start their own new seal colony. These are the only babies to have survived this year's cull, and were rescued from amongst thousands of their already dead siblings.
 
      Although Lucky our latest is not doing so well, rejecting feed and medication at times, but is slowly improving, I have high hopes she will recover fully, much of her problems stem from her initial poor body condition and the strain it placed on her immune system.
 
      By the time of their ability to self survive in the wild, within the next six months, each will have cost me over R10 000 or 800 euros each. One Supporter has adopted Lucky and is paying for her upkeep,  and two others JM (who is blind) and Derrick, have been named after loyal supporters. If you would like to financially contribute or help me in their upkeep, please feel free to.
 
     
Supporters - The French people have been amazing, I have even getting responses from French citizens on the islands of Reunion, French Pacific Polynesia and Tahiti, and still I receive emails and deposits or funding is coming into my bank and by postal address. My deepest thanks.
 
     
The Seal Centre - Unfortunately thieves stole electrical cabling powering the centre, luckily on the outside of the building and did not gain access inside the centre this time, but it caused me to be without power, running on generators and a few thousand rand to replace the electrical cables. I am so excited, since acquiring this four walled store-room turned into a seal centre, a year and half ago, as an emergency measure. Seals have been coming in and out in the course of my rescues. Last year, at one stage I had 31 seals undergoing treatment. What this means is I cannot do any repair work or major upkeep, as it will frighten these wild seals inside. Saving them takes first priority. The biggest problem, is that although the sea is directly below me, and my rehab rafts are nearby, the seals in the centre are cut-off from free access to the sea. But, soon this is about to change. I have acquired a spiral steel staircase, which we are installing outside the centre, around this staircase which drops three metres to the water, above which I will construct a seal haul-out platform, with walls surrounding, and finally break down a portion of the wall of the centre, for the seals to now access the freedom of the open sea, whenever they are ready. It is envisaged, that the seals under rehab, can now come and go freely, going out to swim in the open ocean, and return for their care and feed or safety - as nature intended. This will reduce their stress and feelings of confinement. The costs are high, so if you can help, with some funding, again please feel free to do so towards construction costs.
 
    
Commercial Fishermen Shooting Seals - Report Back. Thank you for all your letters of outrage. The only response to date, has been the Minister's special advisor complaining that seal supporters are jamming his inbox, and that I should not have given it out publicly - like that really is my worry or concern, address the problem is my point, in otherwords do your job, advisor. For the first time this exposure is being driven by a fishermen, who witnessed first hand other fishermen's brutality and murder towards seals. On the funny side, government officials tasked with protecting our seals, attempted to claim that "BillFish" was a hoax by me. The media has already reported on the seal shooting, see article
www.news24.com/Regional_Papers/Components.html
,
with more newspaper articles to follow, and a local prime time television station is looking into doing a story for national TV. The really pathetic thing on the part of government is their in-activity to do anything. Hout Bay the area where this happened, has recently been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA), as per the World Summit in 2004, in which at least 20% of the coastline should be protected. Within this MPA, is an even more protected area, called a Marine Sanctuary, where no fishing is supposed to be allowed. But, the Minister has given these fishermen a waiver to fish in the sanctuary, who then kill and shoot seals living on the small seal colony in the sanctuary. So small its seal population has never been surveyed.
 
     
The Catamaran Boat Project - The boat is still for sale, but if sold, a similar boat would cost 80 000 euros. Funding coming in has slowed, and at last check, we have about 20% of the purchase price. So it seems it will be many months before such a purchase, if at all could be possibly considered. Alan Cooper of cetaceadefenceuk has pledged USD $1000 and challenges others to match or better this amount. The problem is as well, as time increases, my existing costs continue, I have on-going seal rescue costs, equipment replacement costs and centre needing construction work. I hope therefore it is to everyone's satisfaction, if the necessary funds for catamaran are not forthcoming, that I utilize the funds for the seals were most needed. But, I will try to hold out as best I can, depending on seal rescues etc.
 
      
Increasing Awareness - As you all know my wife Nelda, helps with funding from our own business manufacturing mini-global atlas maps and seal fake-fur statues, and then selling these to tourists undertaking boat-rides to the seal colony off Hout Bay. In an attempt to further increase the awareness amongst international tourists, I have acquired a small second-hand Fiat Uno Panel-Van, which we plan to cover in seal pictures/posters, and have a DVD/Video playing images of seals as well. This moving bill-board seal-van will it is hoped educate and inform over 300 000 tourists visiting Hout Bay, many of whom go on to visit Namibia.
 
       Many supporters have asked if they can purchase our Mini Maps, unfortunately the costs of sending these items are high, as they are quite heavy in weight - hence why they are instead sold directly to visiting tourists. In addition, to deal with orders, packaging, transport and exporting, just increases my workload, and takes me away from the seals needing help. So the answer is negative, at this stage.
 
     
The Namibian Baby Seal Cull and Bull Shooting For Their Penises Commercially - As you can see from above seal pics, the seal pups are undergoing their first moult, changing their fur from jet back to olive grey. This is their waterproof undercoat coming through, which means they are reaching the age of slowly becoming sea-creatures, able to withstand the cold ocean. Although still suckling babies, will now start to learn hunting and foraging over the next 6 months, to gain the ability to hunt for themselves and self survive on their own. Sadly less than a month from now, sealers will separate these pups from their mothers and round-up tens of thousands, and attempt to club 85 000 pups for their annual sealing quota.
 
      During and after my meeting with the Namibian Prime Minister last year, Ministry of Fisheries was claiming the seal population had increased to its largest ever and was therefore awarded their highest pup quota. The sealing quota has risen 700% more than when Namibia become independent in 1990. When I flew over the largest colony, 22 days into the 139 day sealing season (which lies along the oldest desert in the world, 1600km from my seal centre in Hout Bay), we found not a single seal or pup left alive in the seal colony, which the Ministry claimed numbered 300 000 seals before sealing started, just a few days ealier. In otherwords it was completely exterminated by Namibian seal clubbers.
 
      I have written to the Namibian Fisheries Ministry, requesting the population survey results for December 2007 and the sealing quota figures, whilst advising him that I intend to do my own aerial population survey of all the colonies, before sealing starts and during the seal clubbing, this was his reply, "
Dear Hugo, Did you manage to have permission from relevant authorities to execute the survey as envisaged? Or don’t you need one? You will get the harvest levels once cleared by Advisory Council and Minister as this will fall into public information then". So, Namibia is clearly going ahead with its seal cull. Clearly this also makes them very nervous, as my evidence would show these seal colonies are declining or in a very poor state, no doubt they will try to block my aerial survey, as it is clear that he does not want to give out the results of the population survey in December 2007, which can only mean they are very poor and the clubbing quota too high.
 
     The last aerial survey I did, was cut short to save costs, but a proper survey will cost over R50 000 to hire plane and fuel, and if two surveys are done as envisaged, over R100 000 or 8 000 euros is needed to be raised for this trip. So again if you want to help stop the clubbing, this evidence is vital, and far more effective than any protest campaign, but it costs money, once again..
 
     EU Commission On Seal Import Ban - It is still hoped Commissioner Dimas of the EU, finalizes the EU position on Seal Imports before Namibia starts its clubbing of 85 000 baby seals on July 1, as this might pressure Namibia to end sealing. Although they are clearly ignoring the European Food Safety Scientific review which clearly states Namibia's killing of seals is inhumane and cruel. What would be really sad, if the EU does ban seal imports weeks after sealing has started, and these killed pups would then be killed for nothing, as Namibia exports all baby seal skins to EU via Turkey.
 
     Petitions - Firstly, thank you all for signing the online petitions. I have decided to combine all my current petitions, under one new petition, titled, "Declaration For The Protection Of Cape Fur Seals in Southern Africa", this will become my blue-print for all future seal protection work, and as such I ask each and everyone of you to go to www.petitiononline.com/DPCFS/petition.html , and re-sign the petition, as this document is vital to show governments the support for the seals, now and in the future. The more signature, the more powerful we become. With lots of signatures, I can wave this in Government's face all the time, so please, sign.  
 
    The cause of this problem is that I neither have the time nor expertise to manage my own website, but to avoid future problems are looking into starting my own website. This will take time, so for now, we will just have to rely upon the updates I send to each of you. The NEW website is in the planning stage, and I am considering changing the name from Seal Alert-SA to Seal-Man SA, as I feel it reflects more correctly the work I do. Below is an idea of what the new website might look like. Please just give me time to set it up, and when ready I will announce it.

 

     Looking Ahead - I judge my Seal-Man effort towards protecting and saving seals by the commitment I can make. I aim for 100%. However to do up to 1000 seal rescues per year, treat them, feed them, keep equipment operating, fuel costs, running my own seal centre privately etc, plus the investigations, research, sea patrols, aerial surveys and meetings, all cost money. To be fully maximized, and to cover all costs (my own expenses or needs, I receive via my own business run by my wife), so all funds raised go directly to the seals, I would need approximately R600 000  or 50 000 euros, a year in funding. This is besides equipment purchases like the catamaran boat. The more funds coming in the more effective I can be in saving and protecting this species. I have yet to even reach 50% effectiveness.
 
     As soon as the baby seal clubbing starts in Namibia, 1600 km away, seal pups will be forced to separate from nursing cow, and will start to flee the killing fields, and end up washing ashore in South Africa, very weak and starving and needing rescue. Tens of thousands are involved. I therefore have a window until September to get everything ready to try and save some of these seals. It is clear to me, that keeping wild seals in captivity, even for seal rescue, is not a working solution, as rehab takes months and it alters wild seal natural behaviour too negatively. Seals must be free at all times. Soon after this, thousands of baby seals wash off rocks all along the coastline off South Africa, which then takes me into another year of constant rescue and rehab. On the one hand you need to rescue and save them, but on the other, they also need the freedom to learn to hunt in the wild to survive, hence the need for the ocean going catamaran.
 
     Hence why I appeal once again, for you to come forward and help fund with the catamaran boat purchase. What displaced seal pups need after being chased from their natal seal colony, is another safe colony to recover (the catamaran boat). They are intelligent enough to accept this new surroundings, and accept feed and medication, whilst they learn the ability to hunt in their new surroundings. Its the only way to effectively rescue and treat them and to get them self surviving properly in the wild again. Whilst this concept is a world first, it is after over 5000 seal rescues the most effective way to treat them, and which in part I have partially perfected as well.
 
    Mumkin the seal pup, now in his third year, is a shinning example of how effective this catamaran boat can be for all seal rescues.
 
    Many supporters make light work. Organizations like Seashepherd have 50 000 members of $3 million in funding, WWF has 5 million, but if we can just get 100 supporters to contribute 50 euros a month, monthly - I would reach as a single-individual 100% effectiveness. My past record, speaks for itself.
 
    Please bear in mind that there is no other organization protecting or saving this species of seal. With whatever funds I receive I am trying to protect and stop illegal acts on over a million seals spread over three countries, whilst trying to save as many seal lives as physically possible for one individual to do, if 100 supporters came forward monthly, in all probability I would not need to make constant appeals for funding, and instead could just focus on getting on with the job.
 
    So if its possible, take up the challenge, and help me help these seals. I myself, put in a few hundred euros each month to help with my seal rescue and protection costs each month. 
 
    Much of these seals suffering stems from the fact that they have been ignored for far too long.
 
    Together we can save a species found nowhere else on earth. My banking details below.
 
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
http://www.youtube.com/user/sealmancam

 
 

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
FOR EUROPE :
IBAN : 911 2201 321
ACCOUNT : 911 2201 321
BIC : ABSAZAJJXXX
BIC: (SWIFT-CODE) ABSAZAJJ Bank name : ABSA Address : DELPHI ARCH OFFICE PARK, RAATS DRIVE, TABLE VIEW City/code : TABLE VIEW, 7439 Country : South Africa