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Each year in Namibia, a legal seal harvest quota targets 85,000 seal pups and 6,000 adult bulls. It is the largest slaughter of its kind and considered the most brutal.
Officially responsible for the death of more seals than the Canadian seal harvest, the harvest takes place during a season that runs between July and November.
The harvest is carried out in three main areas – Cape Cross, Wolfe Bay and Atlas Bay. Cape Cross is a well known seal watching area for up to 50,000 visitors a year, promoted extensively by tourism companies and the Namibian Tourist Authority whose 2011 promotional slogan is ‘Only in Namibia’.
Only in Namibia indeed! Unlike the Canadian harvest which is carried out openly, the Namibian Government attempts to carry out the harvest ‘under the radar’, banning media and observers from animal welfare organisations from watching or filming it.
In July, Pete Bethune and a small team went to Namibia. Their mission was three-fold.
1. Hold a public protest and press conference to gain attention from the Namibian media as a way of getting our messages to Government and others with the power to change things. This worked well for the team, who came back with not only plenty of press coverage but also with a sense that peaceful public protests do get attention - and that the media in Namibia are as independent as they are back home. They certainly reported the story accurately and with no sense that they were in any way forced to stick to a Government line.
2. Try and meet and talk with the seal harvesters and their employers. Although this didn't happen at the time, there are plans to return later this year to attend a meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries and others. So this part of the story isn't over.
3. Try and observe the seal harvest. This proved a lot more difficult. The story of the 'hidden cameras' (which we hasten to add, were not ours) being found on Cape Cross was widely reported around the world. For our team on the ground however, it meant a huge increase in police and military presence around the seal harvest so sadly, it proved impossible to infiltrate that area - this time at least.
What else can we can all do
Our mission continues, albeit from outside Namibia. Regular calls to action are posted on our face book page, such as email campaigns aimed at specific groups who we feel should either stop what they're doing, or support the calls to stop the harvest. and we continue to contact international media with updates to the shocking story of the Namibian seal harvest.
- Feel free to download any of our protest posters (http://www.scribd.com/collections/3119554/E-C-O), and to share them with others. Our thanks go to Mystic Rebel of Global Wildlife Warriors for his amazing designs (http://globalwildlifewarriors.spruz.com/blog.htm?a&nid=A83D560A-6E9E-432...)
- Join in with the calls to action as you see them on our face book page
- Sign petitions (of which there are many). You can download a list from here.
- Drop off a poster and the information pack you can also download from here with local travel agents and tell them what's going on in Namibia - no-one should be going there on holiday while the harvest continues.
- If you have a Namibian Embassy near you, get together with others who feel the same way as you about the harvest and hold your own protest. Even if you don't you can still email the Embassy in your country and tell them how you feel. Send us pictures of your protests and we'll gladly share them with everyone. email@example.com.
Please continue to support us, and the other individuals and organisations who are working hard to stop the harvest, like Francois Hugo of Seal Alert SA, who has been on the case for many years having been a powerful voice in stopping the harvest in South Africa. (http://sealalertsa.wordpress.com).