Lobbyists call for Namibia’s ban
An international lobby organisation has called for Namibia’s ban from an ITB Berlin Convention in March, as part of protests against the country’s annual seal cull. The ITB Berlin Convention is the leading travel industry think tank and addresses the most important issues in the global tourism industry and presents solutions and best practice examples for current and future challenges.
In a letter addressed to the organisers of the convention, Pat Dickens of The Seals of Nam, says Namibia’s conservation laws are a “mockery” when considering the seal hunt and other trophy hunting exercises.
“The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism has come under further fire for issuing a permit for 70 zebra and “an unknown number of gemsbok and springbok” to be shot in the Okondjombo conservancy in the Kunene region. The hunt, which began on 11 December 2011, lacked any representation from the said ministry. It took place in a high tourist volume region and not in an allocated hunting zone. Aside from the fact that many zebra are pregnant over this period; the hunt makes nothing but a mockery of the countries conservation laws,” said Dickens.
Last year, The Seals of Nam – a global advocacy group which aims to raise awareness about the seal harvest, initiated an international consumer boycott of Namibian sport, produce and tourism.
On 25 November 2011, the lobby group also delivered a petition with over 21 000 signatures to the Namibian Ombudsman John Walters. The signatories requested that Adv Walters immediately declare a moratorium on all seal cull activities until such a stage that he has had a chance to review the information that was provided by various stakeholders at a meeting convened in September 2011. On Monday this week, The Seals of Nam also launched the planning phase for international protest actions to be held in March against the continued seal hunts in Namibia and Canada.
People in Cape Town, Brussels, Chicago and Denver, USA have already confirmed their support while interest has come in from Johannesburg, Southern California, Florence and Berlin and more cities are expected to join, said Dickens in a statement.
The organisation has also managed to garner local support with the Wildlife Defense Society (WDS Namibia) confirming that it supports the group’s campaign to bar Namibia from the ITB Berlin Convention.
“WDS is a volunteer membership driven society that is against hunting and senseless killing of wildlife, supports community custodian of wildlife and sustainable utilization and beneficiation as well as documenting conflicts between wildlife and humans in order to find an amicable solution for peaceful co-existence. WDS was also formed to dispel African leadership perception that their loyal subjects condone their lack of knowledge of the environment and the senseless killing of wildlife,” said Nghidipo Nangolo, chief operations campaigner of WDS Namibia, in a statement addressed to The Seals of Nam.
A total allowable catch (TAC) of 80 000 pups and 6 000 pulps has been set for seals. The annual harvest takes place between July and November.
Namibia’s seal population is estimated to be about 700,000 individuals, with more than 20 seal colonies along its 1500 km coastline and on the off shore islands.
In response to the calls for Namibia to stop the annual seal hunt, Bernard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, said claims that the country’s seal population is diminishing are not true and that the current total allowable catch of seals is approximately 10% of the total population.