The Cape fur seal is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means their survival is dependent on conservation. They have a natural mortality rate of around 30 percent within the first few weeks of being born. Clubbing begins when the seal pups are just seven months old, still little babies, and very much dependent on their mothers.
Challenges the Seals Face in Namibia
Loss of habitat, commercial fishing, pollution, and starvation are also major threats to these animals. Between 1994 and 2000, it is estimated that some 300,000 seals died from starvation, even while the pup birthing rates decrease with each passing year. In 1993, the pup birth rate was 164,248, in 2000, it was 147,823, and in 2006, it was just 107,910, yet the Namibian government allows over 90,000 seals to be cruelly slaughtered each year-although some refer to this act as a "cull."
The "cull" is driven by only one man Hatem Yavuz who has the contract to buy every skin resulting from the Namibian seal slaughter until 2019. He pays $7 per pelt while foreign tourists pay $12 to view the colony. While Yavuz will eventually sell his fur coats for as much as $30,000, local Namibian workers are paid less than minimum wage. There is no profit sharing scheme in place, and less than 150 locals are employed for their participation in this slaughter. Yavuz, who describes himself as a so-called animal lover, has said, "In order for them [the seals] to feel less pain, they need to be killed with a club that has a nail in it."
International Pressure and Trade
Despite heavy international pressure, the Namibian Authorities refuse to budge on the issue.
They claim: - that the seals eat all the fish (they deny overfishing despite not being able to produce any documents or policies on fishing management); - that sealing provides work for the otherwise unemployed (seasonal positions); and - that it contributes towards the economy (products from the harvest contributes at BEST 0.02% to Namibian Fisheries, and contribution will become even more negligible thanks to the EU ban).
Not even a drop in demand for products will deter Namibia from ceasing the harvest. The worst part is that these animals have nowhere to go. They are banned from a total of 94-96% of the natural habitat (offshore islands on the coast of Southern Africa). Out at sea there is nowhere for them to go, and should they come ashore, they are killed and or they starve to death. These animals are a protected species (CITES Appendix II) and somehow Namibia has convinced CITES that they are following rules and regulations, contrary to facts and evidence at hand.
European Union Ban
When the initial ban on the import of seal products was introduced to the European Union Parliament, Cape fur seals were not included in the proposal. The ban would only apply to harp and hooded seals. It was only after a lengthy and ugly battle with the author of the proposed ban and EU members of Parliament that the Cape fur seal was included.
Namibia made it quite clear that the ban is of absolutely no concern as there are other markets out there and that an EU ban doesn't scare them.
SPCA - Really?
Universally, the acronym SPCA stands for "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals." However, the term loses its meaning in this South Western African country.
The Namibian SPCA (which has the legal powers and mandate to prevent cruelty and end the "cull") has actually condoned the violent fatal beating of 85,000 baby seal pups -annually.
The Animal Protection Act of 1962 (Namibia) gives the Namibian SPCA the power to arrest and detain anyone caught beating an animal to death, but they do not.
Clearly, someone or some group needs to step up to protect these defenseless animals. Sea Shepherd is taking a stand - are you with us?