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Barbaric "Festival of First Fruits"

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Don’t get me wrong. I am all for culture and tradition. If you want to live in a mud hut and run around in a loin cloth and paint mud on your face, fine! I have no problem with that. But when your cultural practices involve barbaric cruelty which are a direct violation of the laws of the country, yes. I do have a major problem with that.

 this bull will suffer a cruel and painful death

What am I talking about? Well I am referring to the “First Fruits Festival of Ukweshwama” Each year, during the first week of December, Zulu youngsters in Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa) try to prove their manhood by killing a bull with their bare hands. They will gouge out its eyes, break its tail, pull its tongue out, tie knots in its penis, shove dirt down its throat and squeeze its testicles until they burst. This does not prove you are a man. This proves you are a savage and the practice contravenes the Animals Protection Act, Act 71 of 1962 (section 2a)

The killing of the bull is done in order to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest. It is believed that the strength of the dying bull is transferred to the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini. Proponents of this practice argue that the bull MUST suffer because their ancestors made the animals suffer. I kid you not. The fact that we are living in the 21st century, with modern technology, Facebook, air-conditioning and so forth does not mean a thing.

the bull MUST suffer

Attempts to get the ANC government to enforce the Animals Protection Act have been in vain. Animal Rights for Africa last year brought a court application to have the festival stopped. It soon turned into a mud-slinging match and instead of the focus being on perverse cruelty, ended up being a circus of black versus white and the trading of racial slurs and insults. It seems that Spaniards, considered white, and their equally cruel bull-fighting were all but forgotten. Spokesperson for the ANC, Zizi Kodwa wrote “The disrespect and contempt for African culture and traditions demonstrated by the debate that continues to ensue in our public discourse demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of those who have anointed themselves voices of reason. This is reminiscent of the arrival of the European settlers on our shores who declared that our people were barbaric heathens who needed to be civilised.”

Jacob Zuma attends the festival of cruelty

Kodwa misses the point completely. This is a cruel practice and against the law of the land. If one were to bring culture into it, consider the following cultural practices. Foot-binding, female genital mutilation, Mayan child sacrifices and even Apartheid. Just because something is cultural does not mean that it is right.  As a complete slap in the face for animal rights, Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s polygamous president, attended the festival last year in a show of support. I asked the SPCA what they will be doing this year in order to ensure the welfare of the bull. Their response is, and I quote “Unfortunately, traditional and religious rites override the welfare of animals under the constitution. The South African Police Services have made it clear in the past that SPCA inspectors will not receive their protection at the ‘Festival of First Fruits’ or assist them in stopping the ritual.”

You can add your voice of contempt by signing the petition by following this link on Change.org http://www.change.org/petitions/view/stop_the_brutal_bare-handed_killing_of_the_bull and please feel free to comment by clicking on comments tab top of this post. Is this a case of cultural intolerance or is this a practice that should be condemned?

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The Namibian Seal Cull

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We all know about the Canadian Seal Cull. Disgusting, barbaric. But how many are aware of the Namibian seal cull? Do you know that the Namibian cull is the largest slaughter of its kind on the planet? It is considered to be the most brutal of all culls and is now officially responsible for the death of more seals than the Canadian cull.
terrified seals run for their lives

On the first of July, 85 000 suckling seal pups and a further 6 000 bulls will be killed in the annual cull. For the next 139 days, terrified pups will be rounded up, seperated from their mothers and be violently beaten to death. The colony will be rounded up at daybreak. Pups, bulls and mothers will surrounded and kept away from the safety of the sea. Men with clubs move in and the seals run in fear.

The babies vomit their milk up in fear

The sealers will cut the little ones throats, sometimes while they are still alive. The baby seals are known to be so terrified that they vomit up their mothers milk. The sand on the beach is stained pink from all the blood. Carcasses are thrown onto the back of waiting vehicles and the bull-dozers come in to clean up the beach before the tourists arrive to view the colony. 

There is not ONE animal charity that has an active campaign against this mindless slaughter. Not ONE! And each year, despite a declining population, the quota gets increased. But before I get into the quota, I want you to consider the following.
The cruelest of all culls
The Cape Fur Seal is listed on Appendix 2 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. (CITES) This means that they are not yet threatened with extinction, but their survival is dependent on conservation. They have a natural mortality rate of around 30% within the first few weeks of being born. In Canada, sealing only begins after the pup is fully weaned and is self surviving. The Cape Fur Seal however, takes much longer to wean, up to 11 months. Clubbing begins when they are seven months old. Yes, still baby babies.
Bull-dozers clean up the beach 

Loss of habitat, the fishing industry and starvation are major threats to these animals. Between 1994 and 2000 some 300 thousand seals died from starvation. In 1993 the pup production was 164 248 with a sealing TAC quota of 50 850 – (31% of pups) In 2000 the pup production was 147 823 (90% of 1993) with a sealing TAC quota of 60 000 – (41% of pups). In 2006 the pup production was 107 910 (73% of 2000) with a sealing TAC quota of 85 000 – (79% of pups) What justification is there for the Namibian government to increase the quota from 31% to 79% considering the two mass die offs in between where between a third to a half of the population died of starvation? This amounts to a seal genocide! 

Hatem Yavuz
The ministry of fisheries claims it has on several occasions asked the public for a more humane method of culling. To date, no one has come up with a solution. The cull is driven by ONE man. Hatem Yavuz. He has the contract to buy every skin from the Namibian cull until 2019. He pays $7 per pelt while foreign tourists pay $12 to view the colony (after the bull-dozers have cleaned up the beach that is) His solution to the method of culling is, and I quote  “In order for them to feel less pain, they need to be killed with a club that has a nail in it.” Yavuz, who describes himself as an animal lover, is arrogant in the extreme. He wears a necklace made from the teeth of a white whale he killed. Dubbed “The King of the Cull” Yavuz jokes in an interview with Australia’s Seven News that he wears his crown with pride. He laughs at the interviewer and makes silly and snide comments the whole way through. Yavuz and his partner run their business “Hatem Yavuz Deri” from Sydney and apparently also have offices in Turkey, Russia and South Africa. Here is his e-mail address hatemyavuz@superonline.com Feel free to raise your concerns. 
But enough of that particular moron. I now wish to draw your attention to the hero of this story and not the villain. The Patron Saint of Cape Fur Seals is a South African who has fought tirelessly against this Namibian cull. Francois Hugo.  In 1999, Hugo established “Seal Alert-SA” as a “direct hands on organisation to address the imbalances, cruelty and abuse that has plagued this species for 600 years.” Paul Watson, co-founder of “Greenpeace” and founder of “Sea Shepherd Conservation Society” has this to say 
Francois Hugo
” One of the rarest things among people are those who have forged a bond with another species. It is such people that I admire and respect most for they have shaken loose the bonds of anthropcentrism and they have pierced that mysterious but familiar veil that separates us from the other wondrous species that share this incredible planet with us. Francois Hugo is one such person whose profound love for the Cape fur seals manifests itself in a raging passion that  fuels both his anger at the injustice done to the seals and his compassion to do all that he can to defend and protect the seals. Francois is a devoted shepherd to these marvolous creatures and he needs the assistance of every person who can muster up the compassion to support him. Here is a man who is not asking for anything but for people to join his plea to the government of South Africa to help protect and save his beloved seals.”
Francois, for all you have done and all you continue to do, I salute you. Though I cannot do much, I will do my damndest to raise awareness to the plight of these animals and let the world know about the atrocities being perpetrated against them. Thank you.  
If anyone who reads this would like to know more, or if you are able to assist Mr Hugo in any way please contact Seal Alert SA http://sealalertsa.wordpress.com/ 

Pic of the Day

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Lazy Sunday

Bag a Bob-Cat

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The 26 November was World Wide Fur Free Day. Fur Free South Africa, in conjunction with the Global Fur Free Initiative, held demonstrations in Johannesburg. It was attended by a fair number of people.

While putting together a portfolio of cruelty, which I will use in educating others about the fur industry, I came across this clip on You-tube. Watch this and then tell me if YOU think this is acceptable.

Trapping is responsible for the death of over 10 MILLION animals each year. Personally I feel trapper mentality belongs in an era of loin cloths. Not the 21st century. You don’t need to be a member of PETA to realise this is a cruel practice.

Chuck Swift

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Chuck Swift from “Whale Wars” is the Bob Barker Captain and a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Animal Planet reality docu-drama.

Born and raised in Southern California, Chuck Swift has a history of involvement in conservation and animal welfare issues spanning the last 20 years.

Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) began volunteering for Sea Shepherd in 1990 and remained involved for nearly a decade. Captain Chuck Swift’s campaign roster includes the 1994 Whales Forever campaign in which Sea Shepherd was violently attacked by the Norwegian Coast Guard, multiple seal campaigns including the explosive 1996 confrontation in the Magdalene Islands, and a variety of other campaigns before and after.

During his absence from Sea Shepherd, Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) worked in various professions, earned a degree in Business Administration, a professional certificate in Change Leadership from Cornell University, and as time permits, he continues his studies toward a Masters in Communication and Leadership. Since his return to Sea Shepherd in early 2009, Captain Chuck Swift has functioned as Sea Shepherd’s Deputy CEO, positively influencing both the administrative and ship operations sides of organization—most notably helping to secretly acquire, refit and then ultimately captain Sea Shepherd’s newest ship the Bob Barker during Operation Waltzing Matilda.
Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) believes that the time for talking is over, and prefers a direct action approach on behalf of Sea Shepherd’s customers (“the salty ones”) currently threatened by societal greed and exploitation. While serious about his dedication to the protection of marine and other ecosystems, Captain Swift maintains that a good sense of humor and positive attitude are critical to the success of any movement. Captain Chuck (“Whale Wars”) has been heard to say, “We should take our mission seriously, but never ourselves.”

International Anti-Whaling Day 5 November.

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Mmm, so it’s been a few days since I did the whole blog thing. What have I been up to? This is the question.
Aside from a very dull day job, I’ve been working behind the scenes with some cool people for the International Anti-Whaling Day Protests happening tomorrow, 5 November. Cape Town and Pretoria being two of more than 120 cities in over 60 countries taking part.

So, what’s all the noise about? Well firstly, each year around 22 000 dolphins are killed off the coast of Japan alone. These creatures are herded into a death trap where they get speared to death and their throats are slit. The Japanese also hunt whales. Lots of them. More than a thousand. Around 900 Minke whales, the balance made up of hump-backs, southern rights etc. The Japanese do this in a protected area and attempt to disguise the massacre as research. The IWC are spineless and recent evidence goes so far as to show Japan giving monetary aid to developing nations on condition of supporting Japanese whaling policy. Thats buying the IWC vote!

Whaling has hardly changed in the last 100 years. These majestic creatures are shot with a harpoon which has an exploding tip attached to it, The harpoon shot does not kill the whale, but causes massive trauma and unbearable pain. The injured and alarmed whale thrashes futilely against its fetters and is shot repeatedly with rifles until it dies some time later.

Now, before you wish to vent your fury solely on the Japanese, consider the following. Japan is one of TEN nations involved in this barbaric practice. So is the US of America,  Russia, Norway, Faroe Islands, Canada, Indonesia, Greenland, Iceland, St Vincent and the Grenadines. The slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands is particularly heinous and very much akin to the atrocities perpetuated in Taiji Japan. Paul Watson refers to them as the Ferocious Islands. The participants of the “grind” slaughter just under a thousand each year. The water turns crimson as it is stained with blood as men with machetes and knives hack these innocent creatures to death. None are spared, not even pregnant females.

 

I could continue ad nauseum, but you get the picture. So thats what all the noise is about. Fortunately, people do actually care. Hundreds of folks from all around the world will unite in condemnation of this horribly cruel practice. It will be the largest animal rights protest in history. I am proud to have played a small roll in its execution and I further thank and congratulate all parties involved for their contribution. I pray that policies surrounding whaling change, the slaughter relegated to a thing of the past, a haunting reminder of the apes we used to be.
For further info and how you can help, check out the facebook page for Sea Shepherd SA