Namibia’s annual seal massacre began this weekend for a culling season that will last from July to November in what is the second largest seal hunt on earth and the largest slaughter of wild animals in Africa.
This year’s goal is to kill 80,000 pups and 6,000 bulls for their coats, fat and genitalia, which will be used in Asia as an aphrodisiac.
Authorities in Namibia claim that the seal population has grown too large and is threatening the fishing industry. “Therefore it is humane to curb the unrestrained seal population to a level where they can be sustained by the environment,” according to a statement from the government.
According to the ministry of fisheries and marine Resources, there were 1.3 million Cape fur seals in December last year, but the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and others reject the figure because they are not allowed access to records to verify how the animals are counted, reports the AFP.
Opponents argue that it’s about nothing more than greed and commercial gain, and that it’s done with little consideration for animal welfare. Seal pups will be separated from their mothers and brutally beaten to death with spiked clubs, while adults will be shot …all in the early morning hours before tourists come to see the beaches and wildlife. Namibia is the only country that allows pups to be killed while they’re still nursing.
“Namibia cannot provide a reasonable scientific justification for its annual seal hunt,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Director IFAW Southern Africa.
“It is not even commercially viable as the price of pelts has dropped year by year and more and more countries are banning the sale of seal products – most significantly the European Union which, in May 2009, voted overwhelmingly to forbid the sale of seal products.”
A number of countries have banned seal products, with Russia being the latest with its announcement last year.
If the senseless slaughter for profit could be any more offensive, an independent study ‘The economics of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia‘ by Economists at Large, compared the economic value of the seal slaughter with seal watching in Namibia and found that in 2008, killing 58,000 pups and 5,500 adults brought in $513,000, while the revenue from tourism brought in over $2 million.
Yet, a few continue to literally make a killing from this suffering with the small market that remains. One furrier, Australian-based Hatem Yavuz, reportedly controls 60 percent of the market and has a contract to continue killing seals with the Namibian government that extends through 2019.
“Each year up to 85,000 baby seals are killed in Namibia to make just a few dollars from their furs; this report highlights that they would be worth so much more to the Namibian economy alive. Eco-tourism is a growing part of Namibia’s identity but tourists will be shocked to find that a seal they photograph one day may be killed the next morning. There is a clear economic case for the government to protect these animals,” said Claire Bass, WSPA International Oceans Campaign Leader.
Please sign the petition opposing the slaughter.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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