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Activists set to intensify Namibia boycott

posted Mar 5, 2012, 3:08 PM by Pat Dickens   [ updated Mar 5, 2012, 3:23 PM ]
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Press Release 05 March 2012

Namibia is responsible for the largest slaughter of wildlife on earth, surpassing even the Canadian hunt in animals killed. Each year, 85 000 Cape Fur seal pups, a threatened species listed on Appendix II of CITES, are savagely beaten to death. Their pelts are sold for a mere $7. A further 6 000 adult bull seals are shot at point blank range so that their penises can be used to make ineffective aphrodisiacs.

The annual massacre is in direct violation of the country's Animal Protection Act which clearly states it is an offence to "overload, overdrive, override, ill-treat, neglect, infuriate, torture or maim or cruelly beat, kick, goad or terrify any animal." Internationally recognised scientists, including Dr. S. Kirkman (Phd Cape Fur Seals, UCT) and Dr. D. Lavigne (Science adviser to International Fund for Animal Welfare) have concluded that the method of slaughter is cruel, inhumane and causes unnecessary suffering.

The Namibian government blame the seals for a drop in fish stocks. Since independence, Namibia increased their annual fisheries harvest from 300 thousand tons to 600 thousand tons without doing any sustainability studies. It has been scientifically proven that over fishing and global warming are the cause of reduced catches. When South Africa ended their seal clubbing program in 1990, well managed fish stocks were not adversely affected by the seals, even though South Africa maintains a larger commercial fishing fleet than Namibia. In December of 2011, the Namibian Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Bernard Esau blatantly ignored warnings from his own scientists and increased quotas for pilchards once more.

The USA, Mexico, the 27 nations of the European Union and Russia have all banned the import of seal products based on the inherent cruelty. Less than 100 people are seasonally employed in the Namibian massacre. Their human dignity is assaulted in that they are forced to beat several hundred baby animals to death each day. They earn below minimum wage and live in makeshift shacks. Domestic violence is common, drug and alcohol abuse rife. By comaprison, Hatem Yavuz, the main buyer of Cape Fur seal pelts, lives the high life of a multi-millionaire. He sucks the money out of Namibia and sells his fur coats for as much as R240 000.00 each (US$32 000.00) The workers have no access to profit sharing.

A report  commissioned by the Humane Society and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) clearly shows that seal watching eco-tourism in Namibia can generate THREE HUNDRED times more wealth and create far more jobs in a country desperate for employment. 

In September of 2011, numerous organizations including ourselves, IFAW, the NSPCA, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Seal Alert SA and others gathered in Windhoek to make representations to the Namibian ombudsman Adv. John Walters. Our case is simply overwhelming. The hunt is in no uncertain terms illegal. It is inhumane, uneconomical and does nothing positive for the country. The solutions we provided offered large scale investment in the country, job creation, sustainable economic growth, the upliftment of the grassroots communities and the building of a national identity based on the seal colony as a world class brand.  

The ombudsman has yet to release his report.

Today it was reported  in the Namibian media that the Minister of Fisheries, Bernard Esau has announced the Namibian seal hunt will continue, despite the ombudsman not yet having ruled on the matter. Esau, without any scientific justification, plans to increase the quota to more than 91 000 animals to be brutally beaten to death. 

We are left with no alternative but to redouble our efforts at an international boycott of all Namibian sport, produce and tourism. We had our representatives in New York over the weekend attend the NY Times Travel Show where Namibia had a booth. Flyers and over 100 full sized posters of a seal being beaten to death were distributed around the travel expo and potential tourists were informed of the massacre and our reasons for implementing the consumer boycott. 

We will be staging several protests around the world in the next few weeks. Fur Free South Africa  (one of our many campaign partners) will be promoting an intensive online campaign starting Friday 9th March. This campaign will be supported by numerous well known South African personalities and celebrities. Our Cape Town protest, to be held on 14th March, will be supported by Beauty Without Cruelty   and World Events to End Animal Cruelty (WEEAC.com) Other international cities include Brussels (staged by Bite Back  outside the Namibian Embassy) London (outside the High Commission) Chicago, Denver, Boston, San Diego, Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto.

Our boycott has the support of several South African celebrities including singer Verity, Faizel Sayed, Braam Malherbe, Christina Storm and Cito from the band Wonderboom. Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society  and hero of the Animal Planet series "Whale Wars" has also endorsed the boycott. 

We feel that the good people of Namibia are not only being lied to by their government but they are also being denied the opportunity to benefit from a national treasure. How much longer will this government of wolves be allowed to run amok, killing off a fabulous tourist draw card, insulting their citizens and bringing nothing but shame and disgrace on an otherwise fantastic country?

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