Letter sent by Jason Bell - Director, IFAW South Africa
21 September 2005
Mr. Les Ward MBE
Marchig Animal Welfare Trust
PO Box 9422
Carnwath ML11 8YG Scotland
Dear Mr. Ward,
I write in response to your letter dated 16 September 2005.
You correctly suggest IFAW is seen by many people around the world to be synonymous with the saving of seals. This is related primarily to our decades of efforts to save the harp and hooded seals from cruel slaughter in Canada -- a campaign that continues to this day. It also relates to our efforts worldwide, including in South Africa, to raise public awareness and lobby Governments to take appropriate steps to protect seals where their welfare is compromised.
IFAW believes that there is cause for concern regarding the welfare of Southern African fur seals and that this issue merits a serious approach. We also believe the advisability and scope of Southern African fur seal rescue and rehabilitation efforts need to be assessed and appropriate methods implemented accordingly, rather than on an ad-hoc basis.
In each of the campaigns which it undertakes, IFAW relies upon objective scientific evidence which highlights animal welfare concerns and the extent of those concerns. In the absence of such research with respect to the welfare of Southern African fur seals, IFAW will not succumb to inappropriate pressure to underwrite purchases of catamarans or other one-off efforts by SealAlert-SA or any other organisation. Neither will IFAW tolerate threatening and aggressive behaviour which has the goal of forcing it to act contrary to its established principles.
In the recent appointment of Dr. Ian Robinson (veterinarian) to the position of IFAW Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Programme Manager, IFAW hopes to contribute organisational expertise to ongoing discussions regarding appropriate seal rescue and rehabilitation methodology in South Africa.
We look forward to working with you and other individuals and organizations of goodwill who share our concern for the welfare of Southern African fur seals.
Director, IFAW South Africa