Nothing Survives at Elands Bay Seal Colony, Seal Alert-SA Thanks the SPCA, for Assisting in Preventing Extinction of this Seal Colony

Dear All, we the public are not paying MCM to deceive us - Francois. Fence off the Seal Colony
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----- Original Message -----
From: Sealalert

Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 5:18 PM
Subject: Something Very Wrong in the Management of Cape Fur Seals in Southern Africa

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,

Something Very Wrong in the Management of Cape Fur Seals in Southern Africa

Seal pup strangled to death amongst 100 plus other seals found dead at Elands Bay, mainland seal colony
 

    After a decade (10 years) of trying to conserve and protect this species of endangered Cape fur seals in two countries. I can honestly tell you something is seriously wrong with the current management of the authorities with this species. Why they continue to do so, eludes me, but it is there in every aspect of their management? It is bad enough dealing with overfishing, seal entanglement, mass washing ashore of seals, clubbing in Namibia, Trophy hunting of seals, mass starvation, live seal exports, rescue, trawler net seal drownings, gun carrying murdering fishermen, but all this pales into insignificance, when dealing with authorities tasked with our tax-paying money to protect and conserve this species.
 
    Are they just plain incompetent, could not care less or is there something always more sinister at play?

     The above article and the incident referred to within, is just another classic example. There are 5 key words, "No foul play", "SPCA", "John Spence of Marine and Coastal Management", "too decomposed" and "1000 dead seal pups not uncommon".
 
     With Theressa Akkers/Frantz Director of Offshore Fisheries and tasked with protecting Cape Fur Seals at the Department of Marine and Coastal Management, when it comes to seals, there is always "no foul play" and every seal's death is natural. Never caused by them or their mismanagement or their permitted fishermen. And, you know when MCM calls in the SPCA they are in a tight spot in the public eye, and use the SPCA to dig themselves out of the tight hole.
 
 
     This is the truth of the matter. On New Years day a tourist from Canada came across 100 plus seals all dead at a colony on our west coast. Whilst this number is nothing compared to the tens of thousands slaughtered legally and illegally, it does illustrate reality of the seal situation. He fell to his knees crying. He found a new born pup with a rope tied around its neck in a slip-knot, with the other end tied to a rock which resulted in the pup being unable to free itself and therefore strangled itself. A very sick and cruel way to die for such a few days old new born pup. Others had trails of flesh blood pouring out, other seals were decomposing and other carcasses were freshly killed or dead.
 
    He reported this to the newspaper, the picture of strangled pup was published and MCM quickly swung in gear with denial, once it had now gone public. Straight away MCM made out as if this was new to them and immediately stated that the seal deaths were natural, even though the colony is situated over 250 kilometres from their offices. But, the public persisted and did not accept this official nonsense.


    Seal Alert-SA unable to go due to our rescue commitments, asked a film-maker to go instead. Whilst filming, along comes a conservation official from the Department. He informs the film-maker he is looking for the black baby seal pups. Why? Clearly sent with instructions to find only the strangled baby seal with orders to remove just the rope, and thereby conceal this very unnatural death and its evidence. Which he proceeded to do just that, and caught on camera in the act.
 
    Then to complete the cover-up, even the very existence of this, the only land based public access seal colony is discarded - claims are now made that rough seas washed these seals ashore and that no actual seal colony exists. Comments to support this are made that tells of 1000 a day washing ashore at other places. Even though there was plenty of flesh carcasses for a post-mortem, officially they were all suddenly too decomposed. No cracked skulls of seal pups was suddenly found, all had disappeared or officially never existed, and naturally no seals had been shot. Case closed, public uproar quashed! To end the story, lime and a clean-up operation using the City Council Refuse Department to cart away these crimes against nature.
 
    The Seal Protection Act dating back to 1973 states it is a criminal offence to disturb, harass, capture or kill a seal. No police docket is opened, no enquiry, all just another day in a dead seal life. All natural, naturally.
 
    Seal Alert-SA's attention was first drawn to this colony in 2000 (8 years ago) when a lady reported she had found more than 26 killed seals, with many shot, and even recovering .22mm bullet shell casings lying amongst the dead shot seals. She made a sworn affidavit at the police station (see below copy), and handed me the shell casings. She reported it to inspector John Spence of Marine and Coastal Management (remember the name above), when at the time, he informed her, he knew that people came and shot and killed seals at this colony, but that it was very difficult to catch them. He remarked that the crayfish factory alongside considers the seals pests. So clearly MCM is well aware of these illegal shootings and clubbings, so why deny it? Even worse, why go to such great lengths using our taxpayers money to conceal it further.
 
    The Argus and Cape Times reporters were given this Affidavit and recent photographs, but to date ignored all this public evidence.

    Every year since 2000, I have visited this seal colony, as you all know well, Mumkin is one of the baby pups rescued from this sick situation. Ever year between November and Christmas time/New Year the exact same sick carnage confronts anyone who parks his vehicle and walks the few metres down to this mainland based seal colony. Hundreds of seal corpses lay scattered around, heads bashed in, bleeding and rotting away. No clean-up or removal is ever undertaken, until the newspaper report. Complete disregard over the years, is all to evident. There is clearly illegal activity involved in these seal death's, anyone who goes there sees it. But, yes equally some seals have died from natural causes, if you can call starvation of a supposedly thriving seal population - natural. But, what is the most common, and most disturbing is the majority presence of new-born baby dead seals.


   This is what is truly sickening, for as anybody in seal management knows, these pups which cannot swim for first few weeks, are dependent on dry-land and are nursed for up to 12 months. Are in fact locked onto this tiny piece of coastline for survival. It becomes their living nightmare. They cannot swim away and also cannot leave the waters edge. In addition, due to increased overfishing their mothers are forced to spend longer and longer periods at sea foraging, for days away on end, leaving these defenceless seal pups completely vulnerable (with no protection from mom or even teeth) to be approached, picked up, kicked, clubbed, tied-up or harassed and chased in any way. The terror in these seal pups is clearly evident, accumulated via constant harassment via any member of the public day or night, good intention or not, intoxicated or sober. Gun in hand, club or camera.
 
   Many crawl into small caves in a desperate attempt to hide away, until mom returns. With many mother's giving up from the constant harassment, never returning, leaving the pup to slowly starve to death over agonizing days. Where seagulls will eventually start pecking away at its soft eyeballs, as it nears its weak end. This dear Seal Supporters is not natural death or no foul play.
 
   I have photographed this colony each year since 2000, with even in December 2004, SABC's 50/50 wildlife program showing extensive footage of this carnage in that year, again nationally for all to see. What did MCM do then or any other year - nothing? So why now?
 
   Why is this all so wrong, and why is MCM so derelict. Because simply, this colony is situated next to a dirt road leading to the surfing/fishing/holiday town of Elands Bay. Passing vehicle traffic is constant. What increases the danger and abuse, is that motorists stop directly opposite to visit the famous bushman caves, directly opposite the seal colony, as this cave has some of the oldest bushman paintings discovered. Equally too, archaeologists have discovered that the Bushman used seal-pups for food, with their bones discovered dating back 100 000 years. Making this seal colony the oldest known seal colony, dating back 100 000 years.
 
    Instead of the authorities fencing this area off, putting up informative sign-boards and have a seal viewing platform over the seal colony that is controlled, and even charging tourists a fee to assist the local community and undertake seal research and conservation. To prevent all this carnage. This unique cultural heritage site, is left open and abandoned in complete darkness, even at night. Yet, this is the only public accessible site to view a seal colony in the whole of South Africa. Which in itself presents are lucrative opportunity, and significant attraction already, much the same as has been developed in Hout Bay, earning millions annually. But, just like Hout Bay developed privately, no doubt MCM will fail to see the true value in seals, who are not better off dead. And, once again completely ignore the issue, choosing instead for seals to rather be abused and killed, and using our money to cover-up their mismanagement, year after year, after year. Is their hatred for seals so intense, they cannot see the light?
 
    But each March, each year, the seal colony is completely erradicated and is no more. No seal pups ever survive. No rescue (besides Seal Alert-SA) is ever attempted.
 
   I must add that I in noway see the SPCA as being responsible. Linda Bredenkamp has only been with the SPCA for 3 months and has no seal experience, nor should she or her organization be expected to deal with clubbed, shot or reasons why marine mammals (seals) died. This is the task of MCM or better still Seal Alert-SA, but with zero co-operation between the two, with MCM preferring to hide their mismanagement behind the SPCA. So good are these people at MCM in deceiving the public, that the public never questions why SPCA is involved at all, if a whale, dolphin, seabird shark or fish washes ashore MCM does not call in the SPCA, it sends its own personnel. But, clearly in the case with seals, the public no longer believes them.
 
   See the reply from the SPCA, to my constructive offer, and once again within MCM it will fall on deaf ears, with not even the decency of a reply.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Linda Bredenkamp" <
bredenkamp@tiscali.co.za>
To: "'Sealalert'" <
sasealion@wam.co.za>;

Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2008 1:27 PM
Subject: RE: Elands Bay Statement

Dear Francois

Thanks for your phone call this morning - it was very interesting and useful to get more background on the history aound this seal colony. Thanks also for putting your constructive suggestions on a way forward in writing as suggested. In my personal view this seems to be a sensible way forward and would be something worth pursuing.

Let's talk further after we have feedback from other roleplayers.

Thanks and best wishes
Linda Bredenkamp

-----Original Message-----
From:
Sealalert
Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2008 10:43 AM
To
spca@polka.co.za
Cc: Theressa Akkers;
spca@polka.co.za; Beryl Batties; Mike Meyer; Herman Oosthuizen; Risha Sewmangal Persad; Radia Razack; mmayekiso@deat.gov.za; ceo@spca-ct.co.za; liaison@nspca.co.za;
bredenkamp@tiscali.co.za

Subject: Re: Elands Bay Statement

Dear All, and especially Theressa Akkers,

Seal Alert-SA's attention was first drawn to this colony in 2000. When a member of the public reported over 26 dead seals, some shot and even recovered .22 shell casings. MCM inspectors are well aware illegal seal shooting and killing takes place (see attached sworn affidavit). To deny same is foolhardy. Since I have visited this colony annually, where each year approximately 200 plus seals die and are killed (November - December).
Its a grave-yard of seals. Their carcasses lying rotting for weeks and months, each year. Many seals have been shot and clubbed with broken skulls.

A program in December 2004 on 50/50 showed extensive footage of the deaths in 2004. By each March this small colony is completely deserted or eradicated.

Clearly all this is illegal under the Seal Protection Act, and MCM is derelict in its duty for ignoring it, year after year.
So what is going on at Elands Bay?  Numerous yearling/weanling pups are found clearly starving and many die from starvation. Large seals are well, are also found dead in good condition. Females or nursing seals are also clearly starving. A number of pups are born there. Without doubt there is a constant element of illegal abuse and disturbance. The rope around the pup's neck and the shot seals are all examples. Ultimately due to its un-protected location and isolation on a dirt road, the ability for any passing motorist on the way to Elands Bay can stop and proceed to walk amongst the seals, causing massive disturbance of the whole colony, if not physical abuse. Cows to separate from pups, pups becoming abandoned and then starving to death.
Which increases the overall mortality at this colony.

These wild seals are completely vulnerable to disturbance and abuse, as the pups are dependent on nursing for up to 12 months (completely unprotected at times with the cows at sea foraging)

Solution. What is suggested is this. Stop having a media tug of war about whether the deaths were natural or not. Both answers are correct, and yes some may even be dying from disease or the like. MCM has a duty to
protect the species. The bushman cave above is significant culturally for its paintings as well as the archaeological findings has dated the seal bones used to nearly 100 000  years old. This therefore presents a unique opportunity. The west coast fishing community is clearly suffering declining fish stocks. This colony is therefore the oldest known seal colony in southern Africa, Culturally significant once again, and importantly it is the only land-based colony in South Africa that tourists can view seal on a land-based colony to which a thriving eco-tourism activity can be created.
It is further suggested that this small colony, is fenced off around its perimeter, with signage, a viewing area built, to which a fee could be charged to tourists. Income generated could then be used for further seal conservation research and protection, whilst creating income for the community.

Hout Bay has a thriving eco-tourism seal viewing industry worth millions, catering for seal island viewing, informal traders and the like, a similar concept is suggested.

Could I have all's commitment to attempt to put this in reality before the start of next year's pupping season.

Alternative Seal Alert-SA will continue to document and expose, year after year, the illegal seal abuse and killing at Elands Bay.

For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA