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Aug 08

Habitat Loss and Proof That Culling Does Not Work

This post will explain why we are so concerned for the Cape fur seal.  It is a synopsis of a media presentation that was delivered by ourselves, on behalf of Seal Alert SA.

Each year, Namibia “culls” up to 86,000 Cape fur seals.  What is the government hoping to achieve by slaughtering these animals?  Are they killing them to protect fish stocks as they claim?  

Using statistics provided by both the South African and the Namibian governments, we will show that slaughtering seals is having the exact opposite effect; and that instead of reducing the population, human interference is exacerbating the situation. 

Brown Hyena

To begin with, it is important to understand the nature of these animals.  Their survival is dependent on rocky off-shore islands on which they prefer to breed.  These islands protect the seals from mainland predators such as jackals and hyenas.  Both jackals and hyenas are carriers of Rabies and Canine Distemper.  After 5 million years of evolution, Cape fur seals have not built up any immunity to these diseases.  This is evidence that they have not inhabited the mainland.  

The larger off-shore islands also protect the young pups from the heavy ocean surf during their developmental stage when they are still unable to swim. 

If we look at historical records, it will be shown that  NO mainland colonies existed prior to 1940. 

The traditional home base for these seals is the rocky off-shore islands around the Cape of Storms.  This is why they are called Cape fur seals. Not Mozambique fur seals.  Not Angolan fur seals.  They are Cape fur seals.  

Early explorers found the area to be teaming with these animals.  They were hunted to the brink of extinction for their fur and oil.  In fact, London street lamps were at one time fueled using the oil from Cape fur seals. Sealers would land their crafts on the off-shore islands and would slaughter thousands of these animals. 

The daily disturbances caused the seals to stampede and flee from the islands to smaller, less secure wash-rocks.  It was unsafe for the sealers to land craft on these rocks and many seal pups drowned due to the heavy surf that pounds the area.  In 1900, a seal specialist dispatched by the British government, reported that 23 off-shore islands in Southern Africa had become extinct. By 1901, the sealing industry collapsed.  Not due to lack of demand, but simply because there were no seals left to kill.  The government took control of the industry and the seal population was allowed to partially recover. 

In 1952, government introduced a policy banning seals from islands that were larger than 2ha in size. The reason for this was the mistaken belief that seals displace seabirds.  

SEALS LIVING IN HARMONY WITH SEABIRDS

Seals living in harmony with seabirds

How can we say this is a mistaken belief? Aside from photographic evidence of seals living in harmony with seabirds, we can also take note of the historical records of Sir Henry Middleton, who in 1604 wrote the following: 

Robben Island where we found such an infinite number of seals that it was admirable to behold.  All the sea shore lies overspread with them, and up towards the middle of the island there be infinite number of sea birds called penguins, pelicans and cormorants.”

This indeed would be true since Cape fur seals seldom venture more than 150m from the water’s edge.  They prefer to remain close to the water in order to cool off rapidly when needed.  They do after all have a thick fur coat in Africa’s beating heat. 

If we look at the Seals and Seabirds Protection Act, it lists 43 islands off Southern Africa as protected habitat. These are the islands which are described in historical accounts as to where sealing activity took place – from the 1600′s to the 1900′s.  Bear in mind that it was on these islands that seals have lived and bred for 5 million years.

Let us take a look at each of these and, using statistics provided by both the South African and Namibian governments, we will show that that the Cape fur seal as a species is in serious trouble.

We will begin with the extreme eastern range where Cape fur seals are to be found.  This is near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Early Portuguese explorers described the bay as the “Bay of Seals”.  It was then named Algoa Bay, and more recently Nelson Mandela Bay.  There are six islands and one set of wash-rocks in this bay.  These are as follows:

1) Bird Island,19ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

2) Seal Island (ironically named), 3,6ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

3) Stag Island, 0,8ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island

4) St Croix Island, 12ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island

5) Brenton Island, 0,8ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

6) Jahleel Island, 1,8ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island. 

7) [1] Black Rocks: Seals ARE allowed here.  These wash-rocks are 0,3ha in size.  They rise only 4m above sea level.  Heavy surf during stormy conditions pounds these rocks at a height of up to 9m.  It is evident no seal pup can survive such conditions as they will wash into the sea and drown.  

According to statistics provided by the South African government, pup production from 1973 to 2004 has dropped from 1,703 to 423.  This represents a 76% drop in population.  No culling has taken place here in modern times. This colony is headed towards extinction.

Seal Island, Mosselbay

8) [2] 344km west of Black Rocks, we find Seal Island in Mosselbay.  This rock is 0,8ha in size.  There are no off-shore islands in between.  There are no breeding colonies between.  It is clear that seals prefer off-shore islands.  

According to statistics provided by the South African government, pup production on Seal Island from 1972 to 2004 has dropped from 3,237 to 658.  This represents an 80% drop in population. 

Imagine life on this rock during a storm.  What protects the seal pups from washing off and drowning?  Shark activity in Mosselbay is responsible for the deaths of thousands of seals each year.  Again, no culling has taken place here in modern times.  As with Black Rocks, this colony is heading towards extinction. 

9) [3] 261km west of Seal Island is Quoin Rock.  It is 0,3ha in size. Once again, there are no off-shore islands between Seal Island and Quoin.  Neither are there any seal colonies.  This is because seals do not wish to live and breed on the mainland.  They  WANT to be on off-shore islands.  

According to stats provided by the South African government, pup production on Quoin from 1972 to 2004 has dropped from 3,746 to 1,223.  This represents a 68% drop in population.

No culling has taken place here in modern times.  As with Black Rocks and Seal Island, this colony is facing imminent extinction. 

10) Continuing in a western direction, our next island is Dyer Island.  It is 20ha in size.  Historically, this island was of major significance for the Cape fur seal.  It was the largest island in their eastern range and was an important breeding habitat.

Aside from sealing, the collection of guano for the use of fertiliser, wiped out the nests of the penguins.  The island was originally named “Liha de Fera” (Island of Wild Creatures).  It was renamed after Samson Dyer, a commercial sealer from the 1850’s.

On this island, seals were hunted to extinction.  The island has been walled off and seals are banned from here. 

11) [4] If one crosses Shark Alley, you find Geyser Rock.  Seals have been restricted to here.  It is 3,2ha in size. Geyser Rock is home to the second largest off-shore colony of Cape fur seals on earth. It stands less than 4m above sea level.  When the tide comes in, this rock loses more than 50% of its surface area, thus forcing the seals to swim until the low tide returns.  

Here is where we find our first major aberration.  From prior to 1972 to 1990, seals were culled here. In that time, according to government statistics, pup production INCREASED from 2,680 to 10,749.

When South Africa stopped culling in 1990, pup production from 1990 to 2004 went from 10,749 to 5,659 –
a drop of more than 52%.

12) [5] 97km from Geyser Rock we find Seal Island in False Bay.  This is the largest off-shore Cape fur seal colony on earth.  It is 2ha in size.  Robben Island, which was historically the largest off-shore colony, is by comparison 507ha in size.  100 years ago, there were no seals on Seal Island.  It was a penguin colony.  Today, Seal Island has the highest population density out of all the colonies: 1 pup and 4 adults per square meter.  This is 4 times higher than anywhere else.  

The density is such that the acidic urine from the seals has bleached the rocks to white.  Pristine conditions are 0,2 seals per square meter.  More seal pups wash off this rock than anywhere else.  In fact, statistics provided by the City of Cape Town show that in 2005, 60% of all pups born drowned within their first month – up to 500 seals per day!  Over 200 Great White sharks patrol around Seal Island.  They take an estimated 50 seals per day, or 18,250 per year.  

As with Geyser Rock, seals were culled here up until 1990.  Government stats show Seal Island pup production from 1972 to 2004 has INCREASED by 26% from 14,449 to 18,339.  In terms of the total Cape fur seal population, this rock is responsible for a 0,8% growth. 

Summary: Historically, 6% of the total seal population would have lived on the east coast on 65ha of island land.  This would represent 76,000 seals stretched out over 800km.  Due to the South African government banning seals from the three large islands, we now have 8% (or 104,000 seals) living on just 7ha. This has resulted in massive overcrowding and as many as 26,000 baby seals drowning along the east coast each year. 

Let us take a look at the western range of the Cape fur seals. 

13) [6] Duiker Island is 65km from False Bay.  It has not been surveyed, as it is not considered to be a breeding colony.  This is the colony which is the most viewed by tourists.  Ticket sales for boat based viewing amount to R20 million each year.  Curio sales from where the boats are launched at Hout Bay harbour contribute an extra R10 million.  The most money ever generated by the Namibian seal massacre has been R4,5 million. 

14) Robben Island is the largest off-shore island in Southern Africa.  It is 507ha in size.  Historically, it was home base for the Cape fur seals for 5 million years and was their largest breeding habitat.  Its name is derived from the Dutch word “Robbe”, which means “seals”.  It rises 70m above sea level, providing ample protection for young pups from the pounding surf.  

As a United Nations UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has some of the strictest environmental controls around.  It has an abundant source of wildlife, such as ostrich and the European rabbit. 

Ironically, this island which is named after seals, on which was recorded by Sir Henry Middleton in 1604 as living in harmony with sea birds, does not have any seals on it today.  They have been hunted to extinction and banned from the island.  

Robben Island

You could take the ENTIRE South African AND Namibian seal population and fit it onto this one island using 150m perimeter of shoreline.  This would take up 20% of the island’s area leaving a MASSIVE 80% in the middle available for sea birds.  

This then would be the situation as Sir Middleton described.  Remember what he said?

Robben Island where we found such an infinite number of seals that it was admirable to behold. All the sea shore lies overspread with them, and up towards the middle of the island there be infinite number of sea birds called penguins, pelicans and cormorants.”

Sadly, the island has been devoid of seals for over 200 years.  They were wiped out by the sealing industry and banned from their most important breeding ground by an act of legislation that has no merit.

Robbesteen

15) [6] Our next colony is at Robbesteen (Seal Rock).  This is 15km from Robben Island.  The Robbesteen is 0,3ha in size.  It is situated a mere 4km from Koeberg – South Africa’s nuclear power station.  

This pathetic rock is pounded by massive surf.  Thousands of seal pups are washed off here and end up drowned or too exhausted to move on to Muizemberg beach.

No seal culling has taken place here in modern times. However, according to government supplied statistics, from 1972 to 2004, pup production has dropped from 2,427 to 908. This represents a 63% drop in population.  

This colony, as with Black Rocks, Seal Island, Quoin Rock and Geyser Rock, is also facing imminent extinction. 

Dassen Island

16) 36km from the Robbesteen is Dassen Island.  This is the second largest island in Southern Africa.  It is 273ha in size.  An historical record shows us that Dassen Island was a major seal colony where extensive sealing took place: Every summer after the breeding season, a boatload of sealers went to the island, and returned with barrels of train oil (seal oil).  Seventy-two thousand seals were taken in the two seasons 1654 and 1655.” 

Cape fur seals, a threatened species protected by the UN, have been hunted to extinction on this island and this formerly major important breeding habitat has been banned to them.  

The total South African seal population, if allowed, could fit onto the sea shore.  They would take up less than 27% of the area, leaving a massive 73% of the middle of the island available to sea birds. Cape gannets, for which the government has procured the island, have a huge distribution range. They are found from Morocco and the Western Sahara, around Cape Agulhas to the Gulf of Zanzibar (Tanzania), and occasionally to Mombasa (Kenya) on the east coast of Africa.  Cape fur seals have a miniscule range of 3,000km.  Why the government continues to deny seals their natural habitat defies all conservation protocols. 

17) Vondeling Island, 11ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

18) Jutten Island,33ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

19) Malgas Island, 8,3ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island
.  
(Any seal found on Malgas is immediately shot.  Not chased away but shot.  Bang.  Dead.
)

20) Marcus Island,6ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

21) Meeuwen Island,7,2ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

22) Schaapen Island, 26ha in size:
Seals were hunted to extinction and banned from the island.

23) [7] Jacobs Reef is 14km from Malgas Island.  It is 0,7ha in size.  No culling has taken place in modern times. According to South African government statistics, pup production from 1972 to 2004 has dropped from 4,808 to 3,376.  This represents a 30% drop in population.  

Because seals have been banned from their former habitat there is massive overcrowding taking place.  The seals are prepared to tolerate this as it is preferable to being on the mainland.  5 million years of genetic evolution dictate that they should base themselves on off-shore islands.

The government attempts to hoodwink us by claiming that mainland colonies are formed as a result of overcrowding.  However, using their own statistics, we have shown that the vast majority of inhabited islands are in massive decline.  We have shown that seals prefer off-shore islands.  We have shown that these islands have been banned to seals.  Are there really too many seals?  Is this a natural state of affairs?

Jacobs Reef and Malgas Island

24) [8] Our next colony is at Paternoster Rocks which are 24km from Jacobs Reef.  Paternoster is 1,2ha in size. No official culling has taken place here in modern times, yet according to government statistics, pup production has dropped by 72%.

In 2007, a bunch of fishermen illegally shot hundreds of seals here.  Under the Seals and Seabirds Protection Act, it is illegal to shoot the threatened CITES II listed Cape fur seal.  In 35 years, not a single fisherman has been arrested or charged under this Act, even though thousands of fishermen shoot thousands of seals every year.  

Ironically, the only person ever charged under the Act has been Francois Hugo of Seal Alert SA; not for shooting, injuring or harming the seals, but for feeding them and trying to save their lives. 

Paternoster, year 2006 compared to 2007. Are we not entitled to be concerned?

25) [9] Penguin Island, Lambert’s Bay.  Seals that were previously banned from here have been allowed to return. Not entirely though as the center is reserved for Cape gannets.  Any seal that enter the center of the island is immediately shot.  The seals are allowed to inhabit the unsuitable extreme periphery where the heavy surf makes life virtually impossible.  

Government statistics show that from 1996 to 2004, pup production has increased from 352 to 592, an increase of 59%.  In terms of the total population of roughly 700,000 seals, does 240 seals really make any difference?

26) [10] Elephant Rock, at 1,5ha in size and is 51km from Lambert’s Bay.  It is South Africa’s northern most off-shore seal colony and the last off-shore island in the country.  This means that out of 26 islands, only 10 are inhabited by seals.  Elephant Rock, like the Robbesteen, like Geyser Rocks, like Quion Rock, like Black Rocks and all the little wash-rocks, is pounded by massive surf which washes fur seal pups into the ocean where they drown.

Because of persecution from the misinformed public at Paternoster and Eiland’s Bay, and to get away from man and his clubs, seals have gathered here as refugees.  Pup production has increased from 2,496 in 1972, to 4,398 in 2004.  This represents a 76% increase in 40 years.

Summary: If we look at the historical perspective, using pristine conditions, the 26 islands in South Africa would have produced over 700,000 pups.  Today, the remaining 10 islands produce less than 5% of the total population (or 36,000 seals) with 16 former colonies remaining extinct. 

Now, imagine yourself as a seal.  You have been persecuted from the sealing industry.  You have fled to the small wash-rocks.  The massive waves are washing your offspring into the ocean where they drown.  You attempt to return to your former homelands, but you find you have been banned.  You cling to small wash-rocks where overcrowding makes life unpleasant.  You attempt to establish yourself at the oldest known Cape fur seal colony known to man.  Here you starve; people throw stones at you, harass you, beat your siblings to death and shoot members of your family.  Are you going to stick around?  No.  You have become a refugee.  You flee.  Northwards.

As you move up the coastline, you do not find any of your preferred off-shore islands.  You keep moving northwards, hoping to escape human interference.  You move into a diamond restricted area where human movement is strictly controlled but still, there are no off-shore islands.  You continue, searching desperately for a safe haven that has been programmed into your genetic makeup over a period of 5 million years.

Alas, there are simply no off-share islands available to you.

Kleinsee

[11] You have now traveled 253km from Elephant Rock.  Situated on a de Beers mining area, free from human interference, you decide to haul out at Kleinsee.  Kleinsee is chosen because it has an established rocky “head” that juts out into the ocean, resembling an off-shore island.  

This is South Africa’s ONLY mainland colony.  It is the largest Cape fur seal colony on earth and stretches out over roughly 3km.  This colony did not exist 70 years ago.  The seals fled here from the off-shore islands which are banned to them.  

Up until 1990, massive culling took place at Kleinsee.  The revenue from the skins barely covered the costs of the slaughter.  Pups were butchered for their fur and alpha breeding bulls were slaughtered solely so that their penises could be used to make ineffective sex potions for the Asian adult market.  Because the genitals from male pups could generate extra revenue, they tended to be targeted much more so than the females.  This led to an uneven ratio of many more females in the colony.  The problem that arises is that one bull can mate with up to 40 females.

Using statistics provided by the South African government, we can see that from 1972 to 1990, pup production at Kleinsee INCREASED from 30,450 to 78,809 despite massive culling taking place.  This represents a 161% growth.  

From 1990, when South Africa stopped culling seals, to 2004, the population did NOT explode as was predicted. Rather, pup production went from 78,809 in 1990, to 79,710 in 2004.  This represents only a 5% increase.

114km from Kleinsee is the Orange River.  This forms the border between South Africa and Namibia. It is roughly 1,500km from “The Bay of Seals” and can be considered to be the halfway mark in the seals’ distribution range. Although the South African government stopped commercial sealing in 1990, they had already succeeded in chasing the majority of the herd into Namibian waters. 

In 2006, Seal Alert SA requested the Cape fur seal population statistics from the Namibian government. The graph below is what was provided. 

Now that’s all well and good, but consider the following: If you were to undertake a human population survey of the United States, would you only count California and Florida?  Would you only count Texas?  The reason why it is necessary to count every state is to give an accurate reflection of how population dynamics change. 

So did a nuke maybe take out the entire Eastern Sea Board?  Did some hectic virus wipe out Michigan?  Perhaps a meteorite killed everyone in Utah?  Or a pandemic knocked out Idaho?

Why then does the Namibian government ignore their major islands?  Where is Possession Island?  They have North Reef, but not Possession.  Where is Seal Island?  Where is Ichaboe Island?  Where is Penguin Island? What about Halifax Island?  

Okay then, what about Mercury Island?  Flamingo Island?  How about Pomona?  Little Roast Beef?

Plum Pudding?  All these are majorly important breeding habitats, but the Namibian government has chosen to ignore them.  What are they trying to hide?

The graph below reflects the true situation.  Take note, most of the afore mentioned islands are extinct

Shocked yet? 

27) If we continue on our journey up the coast from the Orange River, we travel another 138km before we come across Little Roast Beef.  There are no off-shore islands in between.  There are no seal colonies in between. Moral of the story? Seals WANT off-shore islands.  

What is happening on Little Roast Beef?  

It is extinct.  No seals. 

Lions Head

[12] Just one km away from Little Roast Beef is Lions Head.  It forms part of the mainland.  According to the Namibian government, pup production from 1972 has increased from 2,769 in 1972 to 5,507 in 2006.  This represents a 98% increase.  

The Namibian government claims that in 2006, Lions Head supported a colony of 22,000 seals.  “Rule of thumb” colony size is 4 times more than pup production.  The image (right) is what Seal Alert recorded in 2007.  Click to enlarge. Does that look anything like 22,000 seals? But who bothers to verify government statistics?  And yet, we not entitled to question them.

Sinclair Island

28) [13] Sinclair Island at 3,2ha is but a stones throw from Lions Head. Roughly one kilometer away.  Historical records show that over the years over 235,000 seal pups have been slaughtered here.  The wall which was built around the island was used not to keep the seals away, but rather to trap them so they could not escape into the sea when being beaten to death.  

Culling has not taken place here in recent times.  Statistics provided by the Namibian government show that pup production from 1972 to 2006 has dropped from 15,772 to 9,072.  This reflects a 43% decline.  

Oddly enough, just one kilometer away on the mainland, the government claims Lions Head has seen a 98% increase. 

29) Plum Pudding is next on our list.  It is 1ha in size.  Seals have been hunted to extinction and banned

Van Rheenen Bay

[14] 31km of endless desert coastline, sandy beaches and no off-shore islands brings us to Van Rheenen Bay. No seal culling has taken place here.  According to Namibian supplied government statistics, pup production from 1972 to 2006 has dropped from 3,234 to 2,854.  This represents a 12% drop in population.  

This colony in 2006, according to the Namibian government, was 11,000 strong.  The image (right) is what was captured by Seal Alert when they flew over in August of 2007.  Click to enlarge.  No seals.

Should we not be alarmed?

30) Pomona Island is 24km from Van Rheenen Bay.
It is only 1ha in size, but makes an ideal breeding habitat for our threatened Cape fur seal.  Unfortunately, seals here have been hunted to extinction and the island remains banned to them.

Albatross Rock

31) [15] Next up, Albatross Rock.  It is 2ha in size.  No seal culling has taken place here in modern times.  According to government supplied statistics, pup production from 1972 to 2006 has dropped from 3,722 to 1,898.  This represents a 50% decline.  

Government still claims that in 2006 the rock supported 7,500 seals. The image (left) is what Seal Alert SA captured in 2007.  Click to enlarge. Nothing even close to 7,500.  

32) Possession Island is the largest in Namibia’s waters.  Historically, this was a major sealing area.  So important in fact that railway lines were constructed to move the carcasses from one end of the island to another.  By 1900, the seals had been hunted to extinction and today they are banned from here. Possession Island is 10km from Albatross Rock and 90ha in size. 

North Reef

33) [16] Adjoining Possession Island, we find North Reef. Under pristine conditions of 0,2 seals per square meter, this reef can support 2,000 pups. Government statistics show there were no seals here in 1972. Government statistics show there were no seals here in 1990. When Seal Alert asked for the population stats in 2006, government suddenly claimed that 10,055 pups were born here.  That would mean the reef supports a colony of 40,000 seals.  This, while a massive 90ha adjoining island has no seals.  

The image (right) is what Seal Alert SA captured in August of 2007.  Does that look like 40,000 seals? 

Long Island

34) [17] So, by chasing the seals from large off-shore islands onto smaller wash-rocks, and then onto even smaller wash-rocks, the seals fled to Long Island.  Long Island is 2ha in size.  Using statistics supplied by the Namibian government, we can see that pup production from 1972 to 2006 has gone from 12,228 to 12,702. This is a 3% increase which can be explained by seals fleeing the slaughter from our next two locations.

Government claims Long Island supported a colony of 50,000 seals in 2006.  The image (above) is what Seal Alert captured in August – three weeks into the 2007 massacre.  Click to enlarge. Can you see 50 000 seals?

The seals have now run out of options as far as off-shore islands go.  They have been forced onto the mainland. This makes it easier and cheaper for the government to slaughter them.  No mainland colonies existed prior to 1940.  The image below is taken from a WWF report that was released in conjunction with the Namibian government.

Now we come to the seal colonies in Namibia where over 40,000 seal pups are violently and savagely beaten to death.  These colonies have been severely affected by SEVEN major mass die-offs since 1990.  

Let us have a look at what is happening here.

Atlas Bay

[18] Atlas Bay is just TWO kilometers away from Long Island.  Thousands of seals are being slaughtered here.  Thousands have died from 7 major mass die-offs that have reportedly reduced the population by up to half.  

Statistics kindly provided by the government of Namibia show that from 1972 to 2006, pup production at Atlas bay has INCREASED from 8,879 to 36,396.  

This represents a whopping 309% increase in population size DESPITE the culling AND the major mass die-offs.

With 36,396 pups born in 2006, that would mean the colony is 145,000 strong.  Seal Alert SA flew over Atlas Bay in August of 2007 – three weeks into a four month slaughter.  The image (above) is what was captured.  Now seals don’t just disappear.  Their colonies are year-round hives of activity.  If you scroll back to Kleinsee you will see what a colony is supposed to look like, as that photo was taken the day before this one.  145,000 seals?  Really?  A sustainable harvest?  Or a threatened species?

Wolf Bay

[19] Let’s take a look at Wolf Bay.  Wolf Bay is 4km from Long Island.  Once again, thousands of seals are being slaughtered here.  Thousands have died from 7 major mass die-offs that have reportedly reduced the population by up to half. Statistics kindly provided by the government of Namibia show that from 1972 to 2006, pup production at Wolf Bay has INCREASED from 7,443 to 19,993.  This represents a 168% increase and reflects a colony that should stand at around 80,000 animals.  

In August of 2007, Seal Alert flew over Wolf Bay.  21 days into the 139-day massacre.  Photographic evidence shows not a single seal in sight.  

Not one.  

But proponents of the massacre want to call concerned conservationists a bunch of crazy activists.  

The seals are eating all the fish! they cry. 

WHAT SEALS?  WHERE ARE THEY?

Summary: Without any culling taking place, all the off-shore islands are extinct or are in major decline.  There is no evidence of growth where the government claims the seals are thriving.  The only colonies to show a population explosion, are where so-called “culling” is taking place.  Three weeks into the slaughter there is no evidence of these massive colonies. 

35) Halifax Island is 3ha in size and 14km from Wolf/Atlas Bay.  Seals have been hunted to extinction and banned.

36) [20] A small wash-rock lies 2km from Halifax.  In 2005, there were a few seals on this wash-rock.  None in August of 2007.  Extinct. 

We now come to Luderitz.  

Luderitz has the second and third largest islands off the Namibian coast. These are Seal Island and Penguin Island.

37) Seal Island (ironically so named) is 44ha in size.  It is 8km from Boat Bay, Luderitz.  Namibia’s ENTIRE seal population, if allowed, could fit on this island.  Guess what?  Seals have been hunted to extinction and banned

38) Penguin Island, 36ha in size: Seals have been hunted to extinction and banned.

39) Flamingo Island: Seals have been hunted to extinction and banned

40) [21] Dumfudgeon Reef.  No seal culling has taken place here in modern times.  Statistics provided by the Namibian government show pup production from 1972 to 2006 has dropped from 2,875 to 742.  This represents a 75% drop in the population.  This colony is facing imminent extinction. 

Summary?  Halifax, extinct and banned.  Wash-rock, extinct.  Seal Island, extinct and banned.  Penguin Island, extinct and banned.  Flamingo Island, extinct and banned.  Dumfudgeon reef shows a 75% drop without any interference. 

Crazy activists don’t know what they are talking about. They shouldn’t be worried.
There are millions of seals gobbling up all the fish!

[22] Boat Bay, Luderitz.  Population stats provided by the Namibian government show that without any culling taking place in modern times, pup production from 1972 to 2006 has dropped from 1,691 to 780.  This represents a drop of 54%.

[23] and [24] are Marshall and Staple.  Neither colony has had any culling taking place in modern times.  Pup production on Marshall has gone from 2,910 to 1,430 – a drop of 51%.  Staple has gone from 755 to ZERO.

It is extinct.

Goodbye. Thanks for the fish!

41) Black Rocks (Namibia), devoid of any seals in 2007.

42) Ichaboe Island is 28kms from Black Rocks and is 3,6ha in size.  Seals have been hunted to extinction and banned.  A 2m wall has been built around Ichaboe.  This prevents the seals from coming onto the island. 

Klein Ichaboe

[25] The Namibian government has allowed the seals to attempt to survive on Klein Ichaboe (Little Ichaboe). From 1989 to 2006, pup production has gone from 6 to 60 (apparently).  

Photographic evidence shows that this rock is pounded by big surf and is an unsuitable habitat for a threatened species. 

43) We now come to the most Northern territory of the Cape fur seal.  This is Mercury Island.  It is 63km from Ichaboe.  Anything north of Mercury Island is out of the seals’ natural range.  Seals found north of Mercury Island should be seen in the same light as a polar bear wandering around in the Sahara desert.  Their occurrence northwards of this island is completely unnatural.  

As their last possible natural refuge, Mercury Island is of massive importance and was originally a major breeding colony.  One man, hired by the Namibian government changed all that.  His sole mission was to chase seals off their island.  For two years that is all that he did.  He constantly chased seals and their pups off their last remaining natural territory, right up to the very last seal.  Banned.  Gone.

Mercury Island is now an exclusive seabird colony, instead of seals living in harmony, side by side, with penguins and gannets, as nature intended.

[26] So now, where did the seals go?  They moved south to Dolphin Head.  Although Dolphin Head is part of the mainland, it still falls within the seals’ natural range.  Dolphin Head is a rocky outcrop that juts out into the ocean.  It resembles an island.  Moving northwards is out of the question for the seals.  Firstly, it is beyond their range. Secondly, there are no off-shore islands and nothing but miles and miles of sandy beaches.  5 million years of genetic evolution is heavily imprinted on these animals.  

So what do the statistics have to say?  No seal culling has taken place at Dolphin Head.  From 1986, when the seals first colonised Dolphin Head, to 2006 when the last population survey was undertaken, pup production decreased from 3,606 to 1,385.  This represents a 62% drop in population.  There should still have been 5,500 seals there though.  However, in August of 2007, when Seal Alert flew over Dolphin Head, they found nothing.  Not one.  Zilch.  Extinct.  Gone.

Dolphin Head, year 2005 compared to 2007. Are we not entitled to be concerned?

Summary: We should have 17% of the total seal population (216,000) living on 199ha of off-shore islands in Namibia.  Instead, we have 164,000 seals restricted to just 9ha (or 4%) of their former habitat.  Once again, seals are forced onto the mainland which results in them migrating northwards to escape persecution.  They are looking for safe, secure habitat. 

[27] Sylvia Hill is a newly formed colony.  In 2006, government statistics show 2,723 pups were born here.

44) Unsuitable wash-rocks devoid of seals.

[28] Small pockets of seals roughly 10km apart.

[29] Traveling 318km north of Mercury Island, completely out of the seals’ natural range, we find Pelican Point. Pelican Point is a sandbank and not a true island.  But Pelican Point IS off-shore.  Government statistics show that this newly formed colony produced 1,682 pups in 2006.  There are no seals colonising this sand bank. 

[30] If you travel an additional 133km north of Pelican Point, you find Cape Cross Seal Reserve.  This is Namibia’s largest seal colony.  It is 451km beyond the seals’ northern most natural range of Mercury Island.  Here, as with Wolf- and Atlas Bay, massive culling is taking place.  Cape Cross has also been affected by SEVEN major mass die-offs which, according to government, have reduced the population by between a third to half.  Jackal and hyena predation is responsible for up to 1 in 4 pups.

Despite these factors, according to government statistics, pup production at Cape Cross has gone from 17,839 in 1972; to 37,394 in 2002; to 65,073 in 2006. This represents a 264% INCREASE in population.

The government has confirmed that between 44% and 62% of pups do not survive their first year.  Let us round that off to 50%.  If 65,000 pups were born, 50% remaining would be 32,500 pups remaining.  The QUOTA for baby seal pups to be slaughtered at Cape Cross is 50,000.  That means 17,500 pups MORE than what there is alive! Now it is impossible to kill more than what is alive, so what is happening?  The Namibian government is no longer killing just pups; they are killing 2- and 3-year-olds, which is in violation of their legislation.

This is blatant ecocide and gross mismanagement of the species