Namibia’s beachside bloodbath begins

Thursday, 30 June, 2011
Cape Town, South Africa
Namibia’s annual beachside bloodbath swings into action tomorrow with up to 80,000 seal pups and 6,000 bull seals due to be clubbed and shot to death during the 2011 seal hunt.

The hunt, which runs from 01 July to 15 November, is the world’s second largest, next to Canada – which this year only managed to kill 38,000 seals of a total allowable catch (TAC) of 400,000 in 2011.

Namibia, in southern African, targets Cape fur seal colonies on beaches on its Atlantic Ocean coastline.

“This annual killing spree is cruel, wasteful and out of step with global sentiment that believes commercial sealing should end,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Southern Africa (IFAW – “Namibia can produce no rational justification – scientific or otherwise – for a hunt which is nothing more than beachside bloodbath.”

“And unlike Canada, which at least allows animal welfare groups observer status at its hunts, the Namibian government is paranoid about keeping its seal hunt, and presumably the inhumane activities of its clubbing teams, as hush-hush as possible; to the extent of roughing up and even imprisoning photographers who try to film the hunt.”

Commercially, seal hunting is becoming less viable as the price of pelts has dropped year on year, and more and more countries ban the sale of seal products. A total of 30 countries including the European Union now refuse to sell seal products – including those of Namibia.

The EU has been fierce in its determination to hold fast to its ban, despite a challenge from Canada that could adversely affect trade relations between the two.

The Namibian seal hunt is the only one in the southern hemisphere, with a TAC of 80,000 seals pups to be clubbed to death and 6,000 bulls shot. The pups are largely killed for their pelts, while the genitalia of the bulls are sold for use as an aphrodisiac in the Far East.

“The Namibian seal slaughter is arguably one of the cruellest on the planet. The chasing, herding and beating to death of panicked baby seals while they are still nursing is a horrific and unnecessary practice that should be stopped immediately,” said Sheryl Fink, Director of IFAW’s seal programme.

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Sheryl Fink, Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Campaign Director, Canadian Wildlife
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations