As 2012 draws to a close, we reflect upon those who have lost their lives while we were fighting to protect them. Each year governments, corporations and industries go to further lengths to prevent us from preserving life on this planet. We have faced (and still do) some formidable evil, but the slaughter of baby animals, crudely bludgeoned to death, surely is a new low for mankind. Such deaths occur annually in the small African country of Namibia. Without fail, for four months every year, a group of low-paid, seasonal laborers get up before the crack of dawn, pick up crude wooden sticks, and are taken to a designated seal reserve where they club defenseless baby seal pups to death. These pups belong to a protected species called the Cape Fur seal. They are mostly found along the southern coast of Africa. While these laborers are sprayed with the blood of fresh killed baby seals, those behind this industry enjoy a cup of coffee in the safety of their homes. Later during the day while the desensitized workforce goes home to their flimsy tin shacks to try and cope with their actions and impoverished lives, the fat cats who drive this industry count their gold coins. This year was again, no exception. Although actual slaughter figures will most likely not be revealed, thousands upon thousands of baby seals lost their lives to greed.
Like those who will go to any lengths to hide their inhumanity, the government of Namibia also spared no expense to protect their shame. Below is a glimpse at the economics of slaughtering baby animals:
- A small number of seasonal laborers are paid below minimum wage to harvest a product that only derives an income for Namibia of approximately $120,000.
- Each pelt is sold to a sole trader (Turkish Australian, Hatem Yavuz) at $3-5/per pelt. These pelts are made into fashion garments and sold for upwards of $30 000, of which the profit is solely pocketed by this one man.
- Since the Namibian government dictates that no seal parts may be wasted, other income is derived from leather products, seal oil, bone jewelery, etc. This provides further income for the sealing industry, however, if the data reported to CITES is to be believed, seal oil is the only product providing a negligent amount of money to the industry.
- Factoring in further operating costs, the profit garnered from this industry is truly laughable
- Eating further into that miniscule amount is the millions that the Namibian government forks out from taxpayer’s money to protect this industry. Since Sea Shepherd’s appearance in Namibia, millions have been spent to send the country’s navy vessels to ensure that we don’t intervene or take photographs of this heinous crime.
- Let’s add to this “defense” figure, the amount of money spent to deploy the police and security to prevent us from brining this message to the world.
It doesn’t take a doctorate in economics to see that Namibia has absolutely no financial gain in this industry. An independent study showed that seal ecotourism is 300 times more profitable than this bloody business. If you deduct the security costs to protect the seal clubbing, this profit margin grows even further. According to sources, a new player has entered the playing field. After the EU ban on seal products, Namibia had nowhere to ship their product and so enters China. Namibia has made no secret of the fact that they are selling their infrastructure to the Chinese. Various government tenders are awarded to Chinese concerns, above those submitted by Namibian citizens, and various government partnerships have been entered into with China. This includes the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Recourses who control legislation surrounding seal clubbing. China has no import ban on seal products and Namibia is pushing their obsolete seal products onto China.
After a 2011 meeting with the Ombudsman of Namibia, advocate John Walters finally released his findings from this meeting. Other than agreeing that sealing can be done better, in a shocking conclusion the Ombudsman declared that a seal is not an animal. It is beyond belief that one of the highest authority figures in Namibia is unable to identity what constitutes an animal. This would explain why Namibia is incapable of grasping the concept of economics. This proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt, advocate John Walters did not only fail in his mandate but that he is entirely unable and incapable of performing complex duties as required for his position.
Despite facing this very thick brick wall, Sea Shepherd vows to continue the fight to protect these endangered animals. This is how you can help:
- If you see any travel agencies promoting travel to Namibia, please take the time to educate them on what their clients’ money will contribute to.
- Make sure to let your local Namibian embassy know that not only are they destroying their natural heritage but that this industry is costing their country it’s image and opportunity for sustainable economic practices. (Please do this repeatedly as it is convenient for people to forget the facts)
- Tell anyone and everyone you know about the fate of these animals. The more people know, the more they are empowered and the more they are empowered the more they can do.
- Exploit all your contacts to get this story on and in the news and so spreading this message to the masses
- You can also contact the Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine recourses to tell him politely and firmly your point of view on this industry
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources
Hon. Minister Bernard Esau
- Donate to Sea Shepherd to help us stop the blood from spilling on Namibia’s beaches
Operation Desert Seal
site for more information.