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Seal ‘huggers’ make false claims

Supermodel and actress, Christina Storm joins the anti-seal harvest campaign. (Photograph contributed)Dear sir,
The seal activist, Mr Pat Dickens from The Seals of Nam, is currently organising a worldwide economic boycott against Namibia based on Namibia’s seal harvesting practices.
In his endeavours to obtain capital by selling paraphernalia and requests for donations on his Facebook page, he misleads the general public by claiming that the Namibian culling of seals is not only against our law, but also scientifically proven as the most inhumane manner known to man. Dickens also demands an immediate moratorium on the culling of our seals.
He claims to have scientifically researched material which shows that Namibia will profit 300% more than the current position.
It is an undisputed fact that CITES approves of the culling if done in a legal manner. If this is not the case, then why has Namibia not been challenged by local or international courts? Dickens further claims that a report compiled by the South African Zoologist, Stephan Kirkman and Dr David Lavigne, (working for the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Canada) claims that the current culling practices are the most inhumane known to man. The report, “Assessing the hunting practices of Namibia’s commercial seal hunt”, has been published in the South African Journal of Science Vol.106 Mar./Apr.2010. These scientists conclude that in light of available research, little appears to have changed since long standing concerns about the inhumaneness of current practices, and that they are doubtful if more humane practices can be implemented in the future.
We have studied this report and comment as follows: it is clear that these scientists have not studied the actual harvesting and/or culling procedures themselves; the description in the journal is somewhat misleading, referring to “hunting” while in Namibia the practice is known as “harvesting”. In Namibia, the term “hunting” is mostly associated with professional hunters who, on a very limited scale, hunt seals as trophies. We feel the scientists should have taken cognisance of this.
Their research material is derived from observations that were made in the middle 70’s by a few veterinarians who claimed that not all stunning of our seals lead to their immediate death. More than 40 years has elapsed since!
This report clearly concentrates on the aspect of cruel elements involved in the culling of seal pups, and for added effect, nothing is mentioned about the culling of adult seals. The bulls, harvested in Namibia are killed in the most humane manner possible, by means of a firearm, which when used correctly leads to immediate death. These bulls do not suffer in any way and as such there is no more humane manner of harvesting.
Comparisons were further made between the seal harvesting and the raising of domesticated animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens etc. These are mostly raised in inhumane conditions, where after they are gathered, transported, driven and lairised to the abattoir for slaughter. These processes occur under severely stressful circumstances. To conclude that this is less stressful than the seal-harvesting methods practised by Namibia, is totally absurd and untrue. Our seals roam free and do not suffer the stress endured by domesticated animals. If it is so stressful for these seals, then why do they not relocate to other “safer” areas?
These scientists did not recognise the fact that in seal colonies there are constant fights between adults causing severe injuries, and trampling with many deaths of their own offspring. These activities are accompanied by an overwhelming stench from rotting carcasses, and a constant deafening cacophony of noise. To state that they suffer chronic stress due to the culling practices when these conditions prevail constantly in the colony’s daily life, does not make sense.
These scientists claim that the culling practices are leading to suppressive productive and immune systems? It is a fact that the colonies have shown progressively phenomenal growth during the last few years, without massive mortalities. Is this not an indication of a healthy herd, and that Namibia is practising sound conservation methods?
Their involvement with “The International Fund for Animal Welfare” surely makes their approach extremely biased. One therefore only wonders who paid him to compile this report.
In conclusion, there seems to be little or no doubt that these activists have a hidden agenda while reaching their apparent goals. The consistently aggressive marketing of products such as T-Shirts and badges, and the constant requests for donations, offers them a lucrative side-line living out of their so-called cause. There are so many other good causes to support in South Africa, such as Child Welfare, Anti-corruption, Anti-discrimination, the Rhino Initiative and many more to be involved with.
I wish the general public would realize that these activists are merely “Rebels without a cause”.
Oswald Rall Theart : Namibian Seal Conservation

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