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National & Provincial
Jun 29 2012 9:32AM
 
91 000 seals have weeks to live
BLIND EYE: Most, if not all, of these seals will be dead in a few weeks, the pups clubbed to death for their pelts and bulls shot for their organs. Picture: DE WET POTGIETER
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Petronell Vorster

The annual Namibian seal massacre is due to start again this week amid yet another international public outcry.

Once again 91000 seals from the Cape Cross sanctuary north of Swakopmund are sentenced to die a gruesome death.

Namibian authorities have given permission for 85000 nursing seal cubs to be clubbed to death for their pelts and an additional 6000 fully grown bulls to be shot at point-blank range for their sexual organs. This is the largest slaughter of wildlife in Africa.

Like the controversial eastern demand for rhino horn as an aphrodisiac, the organs of the bulls will also be sold to the lucrative eastern sexual market.

Seal Alert SA, an organisation dedicated to fight the imbalances, cruelty and abuse that has plagued the seal species for more than 600 years, continues to fight the yearly massacre and was yesterday headlocked with Namibia’s ombudsman to stop this gruesome practice.

Francois Hugo, founder of Seal Alert SA, yesterday said: “The Namibian government is violating two different constitutional acts. Seal clubbing is an unlawful and unregulated industry.”

During the seal culling season, that runs from July through to November, as cubs are clubbed in the early hours of the morning. The blood-stained beaches and rocks are then cleaned up before the tourists come to view the second-largest seal colony in the world.

Horrific reports of cubs that have fled as far as 1400km to escape a horrible death have been filed by Seal Alert SA.

Even though animal rights activists continue to question the inhumane methods used to kill the seals and the reasons the government gives for justifying the slaughter, the government continues to turn a blind eye.

“The government has successfully created a multimillion-dollar killing industry,” said Hugo.

“You can’t get a permit to create a seal- viewing company, but you can get a permit to kill the seals. This is outrageous.”

Fuelling the problem is Hatum Yavuz, a Turkish businessman, based in Australia, with business ventures in Namibia.

The government signed a 10-year contract with Yavuz, allowing him to cull 1 million seal pups for their skins. The contract ends in 2019. Alarmingly, the number of seals that the government has agreed to be culled exceeds the present seal population of Namibia.

“The only hope for the seals lies with the government itself,” said Hugo.

Until then, Yavuz’s words remain a reality: “The seal harvest will continue. The noises coming from Francois Hugo will not convince the Namibian State to halt the harvest. We will continue our business as usual.”

The Namibian embassy in Pretoria could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

petronellv@thenewage.co.za

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