Namibian Seal Slaughter

Intense massacre of fur seals in Namibia

As every year starting in the month of July, the sand of Namibian beaches becomes blood red with the massacre of tens of thousands of Cape fur seals. Despite their peaceful coexistance with humans, newborn babies are separated from their mothers to be massacred. Investigative videos show how cruelly they are stabbed and left to die, maternal milk spilling from their mouths and noses.

A bit of history

A long time ago, colonies of Cape fur seals lived on the two largest coastal islands of South Africa : Robben Island and Dassen Island. Newborn Cape fur seals were regularly found beached or drowned off the coast of South Africa. The government considered this a natural tragedy.

Chased from their natural island habitats, the Cape fur seals became crowded onto tiny islands the size of one boulder and constantly flooded with rising tides in times of storm. The population control policy of these animals authorised only one square metre per three or four Cape fur seals. In case of flooding, the Cape fur seals found themselves packed at eight to twelve per only one square metre, which made any movement impossible. The newborns who could not yet swim were often swept away by the sea. In addition to drowning, hunger caused by overfishing, entaglement in fishing nets and of course massacre are the obvious causes of the considerable diminuation of the population. To survive, the Cape fur seal colonies, close to extinction, have taken shelter on the African continent.

A program of Seal Slert SA, an organisation active directly in the field since 1999 in fighting for the end of injustices, cruelty and abuse and whose principal methods are the investigation, rescue and rehabilitation of Cape fur seals, is currently in place acting to return Robben Island to a natural Cape fur seal habitat.

From exile to massacre

Despite the fact that Cape fur seals figure on the CITES list, these animals continue to be exported throughout the world. In 1990 South Africa ended all slaughter of Cape fur seals. Protected by the Seal Protection Act since 1973, Cape fur seals continue to be massacred in Namibia without any hunter being arrested for these cruel acts. Namibia remains one of the only countries to use these particularly cruel and unacceptable practices. The hunters group the baby Cape fur seals on the shore and hinder them from rejoining the ocean. As the babies try to escape, they are stabbed with knives. Thus they collapse and loose all their nourishing milk through the wounds, and die a slow and agonising death, all with the blessing of the Namibian governement, who allows hunters to torture and massacre these protected wild creatures. Tourists equally encourage this massacre and certain ones even participate. Half of the quota of the selected slaughter can be explained by the number of tourists who participate in these cruelties. The quota for 2006 was 85,000 babies and 6,000 adults killed. The quota for 2007 even exceeded the number of baby Cape fur seals inside the colonies.

The idle government!

Because of historical laws, fishermen are allowed to carry firearms and explosives for ‘fear of pirates’. Everyone knows the only real objective is to secretly target the Cape fur seals. Namibia’s pretext for justifying these horrors is the fishing industry. Scientists have led research proving that this massacre is unjustified, because 98% of the fish harvest is exported, compared to only 2% consumed locally, but the governement refuses to admit this. Encouraged by the government, the fishermen receive a generous compensation per head. Many Cape fur seals, if not killed, find themselves emprisoned by fishing nets and wounded by straps entangled around their necks. The Cape fur seals have been a protected species since 1973, but strangely no text has been written on this subject. Letters addressed to the Namibian president remain unanswered. The Prime Minister Nahas Angula calls for the increase of quotas every year. The massacre of Cape fur seals in Namibia is the largest massacre of marine mammals in the world. Namibia does not adhere with other nations in the protection of marine animals and the continual increase of quotas represents a real threat to the future of wildlife.

An economic absurdity

As shown by recent studies on the globality of revenues generated by the presence of Cape fur seals in Namibia, it is irrefutable that the animals bring a real fortune to the government while they are alive ! Because they were obliged to establish their colonies on the continent, they attract each year the attention of tourists from the entire world to the beaches of Cape Cross, Atlas Bay and Wolf Bay. A report established by Economists at Large [1] at the initiative of several international animal protection associations [2] compares these revenues to those generated by the use of skins of these same animals. The report indicates that for 2008 the slaughter brought only $513,000 compared to $2 million raised by the observation of Cape fur seals. This is based on precise analysis of the two industries and their functionning to conclude that the slaughter represents a serious threat to the future of Cape fur seal observation. This practice is a beneficial, reliable and lasting economic source with substantial potential : in 2016 the revenues generated should reach $3.2 million. These revenus are also better distributed through Namibian society by favoring establishments dedicated to tourism. This beneficial development is directly threatend by the slaughter, which takes place on the beaches in the mornings between July and November, just a few hours before tourists arrive. Despite the efforts of the government to hide it, such an activity harms more and more the reputation of eco-tourism companies and threatens the overall economy of the country.

Write to the Namibian authorities to stop Cape fur seal slaughter!

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations
360 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1502
New York, NY 10017
phone: 212-685 2003; 212-685 1561

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources
Private Bag 13355
phone: (061) 2053911

Hon. Minister Dr. Abraham Iyambo
Hon. Deputy Minister Kilus Nguvauva
Permanent Secretary Nangula Mbako,
phone: + 264 61 233 286 ou + 264 61 224 566

Office of the Prime Minister
Hon. Prime Minister Nahas Angula
Private Bag 13338
phone: (061) 287 9111
fax: (061) 230648

Namibia Ministry Of Environment & Tourism
Hon. Minister Willem Konjore
Dr. M. Lindeque, Permanent Secretary
phone: +264 (0)61 284-2287

phone: +264 (0)61 284 2178

Parks & Wildlife Management

Namibia Tourism Board
Windhoek, Ground Floor, Sanlam Centre
Cnr. Of Fidel Castro & Werner List St Private Bag 13244
phone: +264 61 290 6000
fax: +264 61 254 848

[1The economics of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia

[2] WSPA, HSI, Respect for animals et Bont voor Dieren