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Nov 13

Namibia seal hunt draws to close as pups evade clubs

Namibia, the biggest hunter of seals after Canada, licenses right holders to kill the fish-eating mammals during a harvesting season that starts in July, seeking to profit from selling fur and adult male penises, an aphrodisiac in Asia.

Seal hunt kills Namibia tourism

Namibia tourism is suffering

Namibia’s annual seal harvest is set to be the smallest on record after thousands of the animals evaded death by clubbing or shooting along the southwest African country’s coastline.

With the season ending this week, almost 26,000 seal pups have been clubbed to death for their fur. That’s half last year’s number and well short of the annual quota of 80,000, according to the fisheries ministry in Windhoek, the capital. Hunters won’t kill all of the 6,000 bull seals they are allowed to shoot either by the Nov. 15 deadline, the ministry said.

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Namibia, the biggest hunter of seals after Canada, licenses right holders to kill the fish-eating mammals during a harvesting season that starts in July, seeking to profit from selling fur and adult male penises, an aphrodisiac in Asia. Last year’s total also missed the quota, declining to 51,464 pups and 3,968 bulls. The government blamed that drop on license holders lacking up-to-date processing facilities.

“The number of harvested seals has been gradually going down and this year’s would be the lowest-ever catch,” said Charlie Matengu, a spokesman for the ministry, in an interview this week. “Seals are wild animals and to make it even more difficult, they live close to water, thus making it difficult to have a 100 percent harvest. It is the nature of the operation that causes the fluctuation of harvested seal.”

The smaller number of dead Cape fur seals doesn’t signal a population in decline. Government scientists are discovering new colonies, some extending to the waters of neighboring Angola to the north, said Matengu.

namibia seal cull

namibia seal hunt

Skeleton Coast

Namibia estimates its seal population at about 1.3 million, consisting of 618,700 cows, 348,623 bulls and 348,263 pups. The numbers may be booming, although it’s hard for officials to be sure, Matengu said.

“There could be significant increases in the population, because we have observed the formation of new colonies,” he said. Scientists have found several previously unknown seal-breeding grounds, particularly at Cape Cross, north of Swakopmund, Namibia’s, second-biggest town, on the Skeleton Coast, Matengu said.

At Cape Cross, where Portugal’s Diego Cao, the first European to land in Namibia, came onshore in 1486, as many as 210,000 seals converge at a time. The Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts-based International Fund for Animal Welfare criticizes the Namibian hunt as “not humane,” according to the group’s website. Filming or photographing the hunt is currently banned, according to the IFAW.

Namibia wildlife massacre

Ecocide in Namibia

Protecting Fish

While Namibia has previously argued that seals consume about 700,000 metric tons of fish annually and pose a threat to fish stocks, the annual harvest isn’t held because the animals are top predators in the ecosystem, according to Matengu.

Namibia regards seals as “an exploitable marine resource where the government can derive both consumptive and non-consumptive economic gains and government policy is to exploit them on a sustainable basis,” Matengu said.

The goal of the harvest is not to protect fish stocks, he said.

“Over hundreds of years, seals co-existed with fish species,” he said.

Article taken from source