Oswald Theart pretends to love a seal. (File photo)Oswald Theart pretends to love a seal. (File photo)It is an old Wise Use tactic from the Reagan era to create organizations that sound like they are for conservation but, in fact, represent just the opposite. For example back then we had Friends of the Sea Lions and Friends of the Dolphins, both groups created and funded by the tuna industry that in reality supported the killing of sea lions and dolphins.

People caught on to this very quickly because the public was not as stupid as the industry’s public relations firms thought they were. But it appears that this tactic is now being used in Namibia where a group called Namibia Seal Conservation has been formed.

The first thing this group has done is to denounce every organization involved with trying to end the slaughter of seals in Namibia.

The Namibian Economist ran this article this week:

A new conservation group calling itself the Namibia Seal Conservation has come out strongly against other animal rights groups, which have been calling for the boycott of locally made products because of what they call inhumane killings of seals in the country. Oswald Theart, a spokesperson for the group, urged Government this week to ignore activists such as Seal Alert, Seals of Namibia, and Sea Shepherd South Africa "as they are merely rebels without a cause. “The Namibia Seals Conservation said it is against cruelty to animals but believe that the current cull practices are the most humane known to man.

Now who is Oswald Theart, you ask? He is a white man who describes himself as an artist specializing in designer leather handbags, whose son runs the Ngandu Safari Lodge. On his Facebook site he writes:

"MY CAUSE IS AGAINST THE SEAL HUGGERS WHO SPREAD SO MUCH LIES ABOUT MY BEAUTIFULL COUNTRY NAMIBIA, IF THEY ARE NOT COUNTERED THEY WILL CAUSE MY COUNTRY IMENSE AND IREPAIRABLE DAMAGE, THANK YOU, AND KINDLY SHARE THIS WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS."

Now the Namibian Conservation Society is hardly a threat to the cause to stop the slaughter of the Southern African Fur Seals. They only have 231 supporters on their Facebook page. But what the establishment of this group tells us is that the organizations opposing the slaughter are having an impact.

The government of Namibia is worried and so is the business community of which this man Oswald Theart and his son are a part and they should be worried because there is a growing tourist boycott of Namibia. Despite Theart’s ridiculous statement that the killing is “the most humane known to man” the world is learning just how cruel and savage the annual massacre of seal pups really is.

I love how he refers to us "as they are merely rebels without a cause." What a laugh! Their group of course has a cause – making money- but they only have 231 supporters and he refers to groups that collectively have hundreds of thousands of supporters as not having a cause. What he is really saying is that compassion and conservation are not causes but making money is.

I am merely posting this to illustrate that this organization is representative of a tactic that failed in the Eighties and will fail again. The public is not as stupid as Oswald Theart and his small handful of like-minded followers seems to think they are.

All in all their desperation is an encouraging development and I would urge all of us who are working to end the inhumane slaughter to simply ignore this bogus “conservation” group as I will do after this posting. There is no need for any of us to waste time and energy responding to or reacting any further to this Namibian Trojan Horse. We need to focus on speaking the language all politicians understand – economics. The boycott of tourism to Namibia is growing and we really should give special attention to boycotting the Ngandu Safari Lodge.

The slaughter of the seals of Namibia is an ecological issue and it is an issue of cruelty. Fur seal numbers have been drastically reduced over the last century and this is not healthy for the entire Southern African marine ecosystems. We need more seals, not less. The clubbing of seal pups is a barbaric practice that has no place in the civilized world. We need to destroy the market for seal pelts globally and in this regard we have been making great progress.

It is the market and the economics of sealing we need to direct our attention towards, not silly little cruelty advocacy groups like Namibian Seal Conservation and their vested interest supporters.

Sea Shepherd
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