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Shark Finning in Mozambique

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The scenes in this clip were all shot on location in Mozambique with the use of hidden cameras. It is estimated that up to 100 million sharks are butchered for their fins each year, mostly to satisfy a Chinese market for shark fin soup. The fins do not add flavour, which is a type of chicken broth. Neither do they hold any nutritional value. The fins are added to provide texture. 


1/3 of all shark species are facing extinction, many within our lifetime. Sharks play a critical role in maintaining the fragile balance in our worlds oceans. It is a slap in the face to all concerned citizens that shark fin soup be allowed to be served in public restaurants.  


YOU can send out a petition to Lai Lai Garden, a restaurant in Johannesburg, South Africa asking them to remove shark fin soup from their menu. Simply click HERE  

Namibia. Seal cull facts.

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Tomorrow the annual slaughter of thousands of seals is set to begin in Namibia. I am getting a lot of people asking me the same questions and how to respond to various counter arguments. In order for you to understand the complexities, and to put the whole thing in perspective, I have put this note together. Please feel free to use, tag and share.
The Seals are eating the fish. Their numbers need to be controlled. 
What do you expect them to eat? Lettuce?
  • The seal population has dropped from over 2 million to less than 850 000. They are an endangered species, appearing on both Appendix II of CITES as well as on the IUCN Red List. They have a natural mortality rate of over 30% in the first few weeks of being born. 90% of their preferred habitats of small off shore islands have been wiped out in the last 60 years. They have suffered several mass die offs, the most recent being in 2006 where an estimated 350 000 seals died from starvation. This is the largest die off of any marine mammal in recorded history. Cape Fur Seals will normally breed every third year. By killing the baby at seven months, the seal cows will breed EVERY year. If the seals are eating the fish, why are they beating baby seals to death? These juveniles are still suckling from the teat and only begin to eat solids at around 12 months. Is it simply coincidence their soft pelts are more valuable??  
  • Since independence, the Namibian government increased its annual fishing harvest from 300 000 tons to 600 000 tons without doing any sustainability studies. At the time, the colony stood at well over million, and you can ask any avid fisherman, fish were PLENTIFUL in Namibia. The annual slaughter then killed 30 000 seals. Now, the population stands at 850 000 seals, there are no fish and they slaughter 91 000. This makes no sense. They are not doing this to protect fisheries. This is a blatant case of gross mismanagement of resources based on economic greed. When SA  ended our seal culling policy in 1990, our own fisheries were up in arms. But, SA fishing industry has seen nothing but positive growth.
The best way to control their numbers would be to end this slaughter immediately, give the seals the protection they deserve and allow the population to stabilise and recover. 
The Slaughter provides much needed employment and is an important industry for Govt revenue.
The slaughter of seals in Namibia is not an industry. It amounts to nothing more than a small business. If a pelt retails for $7 and the govt get $2 of that, the equation is simple. US$2 x 91 000 seals = $182 000. Grannies knitting circle can do better. 
  •  When the annual quota for slaughter stood at 30 000 seals, 160 people were involved in the clubbing. The quota now stands at 91 000 and only 81 people are SEASONALLY employed for 4 months of the year. They earn less than R50/day. (Around US$8 per day) A seal pelt sells for US$7 It takes 6 pelts to make a coat. These coats sell for US$30 000.00 The money goes to a foreign Turkish businessman who sucks the money OUT of Namibia so he can live the high life in Australia. There is no profit sharing scheme in place. The workers live in tin shacks in shanties in Henties Bay. They cannot even feed their families. Drug and alcohol abuse is rife. Domestic violence is common. Beating hundreds of baby animals to death each day is an assault on their human dignity. They have no recourse to stress and trauma councelling.
  • A medium sized hotel, with tours to the colony, sight seeing etc can employ as many as 1000 people. All year round. Niche markets can be developed for seal guano as fertilizer, conservation initiatives developed, skills training, job creation. Models based on eco-tourism show that 80 x more revenue can be generated with subsidary industries being developed. But no; Namibia will carry on violating its own laws to get a benefit of less than $200 000 in revenue.
Your decision to boycott has back fired. Namibia has now banned media from covering the cull and a boycott is unfair to the people of Namibia.
Backfired? Don’t be naive! This is an incredible VICTORY! 
  • Boycott was NOT our first option. We began this campaign by first looking into a broad spectrum of alternatives. We approached the Namibian SPCA and asked them to intervene. To our shock and horror, it turned out they do not believe a seal is an animal and they publicly condoned the cull. We turned to the Ministry of Fisheries. In the face of no scientific evidence, the Ministry blamed the mismanagement of their own resources of the seals. Respected organizations from around the world pleaded with the government, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Directorate of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environment and Tourism. Francois Hugo met with the Prime Minister, campaigns got no-where. Individuals wrote letters to Namibian embassies around the world. Despite an EU ban on seal products, the seals continued to be slaughtered and journalists were getting beaten up and detained on non existent laws. After exhausting all possible angles, we found we were left with no other alternative but to institute an economic boycott.
  • Namibia are feeling the pressure. They have responded with a media ban. This is GREAT! I am absolutely thrilled! Firstly, it shows that the boycott is having an effect. It has got the Namibian Government to react. Now we have yet ANOTHER avenue to attack them with. Not only is this an animal rights issue, where Namibia are contravening their own animal protection act, this is also a human rights issue. Namibia are violating their media laws and the freedom of speech. It does not mean the media is out of the picture. On the contrary, by the very fact that Namibia has put this blanket ban on the media, more international media will demand to know what is going on. 
  • When South Africa was under Apartheid, we were hit with boycotts. This was done to generate media awareness and force a change in the status quo. Sadly people in South Africa were affected even though they did not support the government policy. While we regret this “collateral damage” we implore the citizens of Namibia to demand that the government change its seal culling policy with immediate effect. It is costing Namibia untold millions. It is tarnishing the reputation of a fantastic country and is crippling an already unstable economy. If change comes from within, the slaughter will be ended a lot sooner than from external pressure of foreigners. 
The slaughter of seals is about maintaining balance. It is a conservation initiative.
Get real!
  •  The removal of any apex predator from the food chain goes against all scietifically proven and internationally accepted conservation practices. The fact that hundreds of thousands of these animals are bludgeoned to death, even though they are endangered, is nothing short of foolish, iniquitous, barbaric and savage. CITES does allow for a sustainable harvest. The conditions to this are that the harvest falls under the juristiction of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. This is not a sustainable harvest. It is a commercial harvest, as the slaughter falls under the Department of Fisheries. Here AGAIN, Namibia are contravening their own laws. The juristiction of the Department of Fisheries is the off-shore islands, the sea, the sea bed up to the high water mark. Slaughter takes place on a reserve, 150 meters ABOVE the high water mark
Have you ever been to see the colony or witnessed the slaughter?
  • No. By the same token, one does not need to have survived Auschwitz in order to know German Nazi concentration camps were horrific, despicable and vile.
Your argument is flawed. It is based on emotional reasoning, not scientific fact.
The only people who have no scientific fact are the Namibian Government. Not a single publication of theirs in support of the slaughter has been acceptably peer reviewed using independent sources.
  • Please refer to the following links before you make such groundless accusations.  
SA Journal of Science 2010, 106(3/4),
I have tons of scientific information. Enough to fill 8 gigs. But there is only ONE piece of scientific information you need. Watch this clip and tell me if this is justifiable. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7EGV5Jw_V4 
For further information, please refer to The Seals of Nam website. https://sites.google.com/site/thesealsofnam/
Thanks

Rhino Wars.

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I put this clip together for You-tube in the hope of increasing awareness to the plight of Rhino in Southern Africa.


Since 2007, there has been a 3000% increase in the amount of rhino illegally slaughtered in South Africa. Their horns are worth more than their weight in gold. This and habitat loss have made the rhino one of the most endangered animals on the planet. To ensure any future survival, the protection and conservation of these animals has reached a critical status. It has been scientifically proven that aphrodisiacs, traditional medicines and beauty treatments made from rhino horn have absolutely no effect what so ever. You may as well use your toe nail clippings.


Great White more threatened than tigers!!

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Great White Shark, taken off Gansbaai, SouthAfrica. Amazing shot! I am hoping to do a cage dive soon. Will let you know how it went of course. Damn! I am looking forward to it. 
The one thing that really scares me is not the multiple rows of around 3000 teeth. Not at all. The thing that really terrifies me is the fact that these apex predators from the ocean are more threatened than tigers! Yup, you read that correctly. More threatened than tigers!
Like tigers, great whites are a top predator and, like tigers, they have suffered in recent years from habitat destruction and hunting. But unlike tigers, great white sharks get little public sympathy, said Dr Ronald O’Dor, senior scientist at the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year study into ocean wildlife.
An article in The Guardian mentions that the number of Great White sharks has dropped to an alarming 3500. This is really frightening, especially when one considers that the demand for shark fin soup has risen steeply over the last few years. Popular movies, such as Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” where these creatures are portrayed as villains don’t help one iota. 
We need to take drastic action. Seriously. Boycott all restaurants selling shark-fin soup. The damn dish has no nutritional value at all and is not doing the environment any good.
On a more positive note, the USA have taken a step in the right direction, and are now at the forefront of shark conservation. The US Senate recently passed the Shark Conservation Act, which bolsters the prohibition of shark-finning in US waters. If you would like to know more about this you can click HERE 

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

BUNGEE!!

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http://www.youtube.com/get_player
Operated by Face Adrenalin, the Bloukrans Bungee near Storms River in South Africa is officially the highest commercial true bungee jump in the world. A whopping 216 meters! Nah… I am not nuts!