Mumkin from Elands Bay and the boat to come

SealAlertSA sasealion@wam.co.za
Friday, November 25, 2005 8:45 AM
Dear All Seal Supporters,

Firstly thank you kindly for your words and emails regarding the sad passing of "sky", it was such a pity that she was on this earth for such a short period of time. She was returned from where she had come and will hopefully be carried and consumed by numerous other creatures of her watery kind, and so live on for eternity. I apologise for not responding to each one of you separately, but things this side are hectic to the extreme.

As "sky" passed, another baby pup was on his way, named by its rescuer "Mumkin", he arrived at 11.30 pm, looking very confused, weak and needing love. To me this little pup is very special. For he comes from a very small colony of around 200 seals. This colony, 200km from Hout Bay, when visited by me last pupping season, was a sight I will never forget. Dead and dying seals were everywhere, young, old and new-born. I rescued one, not wanting to interfere in the order of wildlife, unless it is absolutely clear, the little chap has no chance of survival. A re-visit to this colony, 6 months later, revealed a completely dead or deserted former colony, all the seals were no more.

This seal colony, on an out crop of rocks known as Elands Bay, is a very special place. For it is in this area, that the oldest fossil remains of a seal was discovered dating back 5 million years, on a hill, when the sea-level was higher and over 50 km in-land. It has also revealed in the caves overlooking this colony on the hillside opposite, the first evidence of the indigenous "beach walkers" or Hottentot tribes, 10 000 to 100 000 years ago, the first human inhabitants of this region at the tip of Africa, who used the carcasses of these dead or dying baby seal pups, that were being washed off the surrounding islands, as food, as their preferred choice, as the meat to fat ratio was optimal.

Sadly change is in the air, with a multi-million urban development planned to start building right opposite this tiny colony in early 2006. Huge environmental opposition has not appeared to sway these greedy developers or our officials, from safe guarding our natural heritage. So it is with a love of this species future, that little "mumkin" gets saved, so that he can grow into a big bull and pass his unique genes onto the next generation, for I fear this seal colony will soon be no more.

At 3.5kg, Mumkin is about 50% under-weight, he took to his new home like a "duck to water" and clearly needs every ounce of affection he can get. The history to his short life, is so clearly etched all over his tired body. Born early, premature, approximately 2 to 3 weeks ago, he clearly had a short time with his mom, perhaps as little as a week, however that short week of suckling mother's milk, has been his life saver, giving him the valuable anti-bodies he will need to survive. Based on their rate of growth we can roughly calculate that "mumkin" has been without mothers milk for approximately 2 weeks, a life-time in a 3 week old abandoned baby. Perhaps his mom died, was illegally shot or drowned by a fishing trawler net whilst out hunting, the exact cause we will never know, perhaps even due to overfishing and collapse of fish stocks, she had to make a survival instinctive decision, abandon her pup or save herself. To add to "mumkin's" woes, somehow he received an injury to his left cheek and upper lip, perhaps a seagull seeing his end was near, pounced, and pecked away, causing his infection. Whatever his cause, this infection had grown further weakening his tired, so young little body, life was already throwing the worst at him, yet somehow he lived.

Mumkin's arrival, Hey ! Whats up, feed me

Mumkin's abscess broke

I therefore plan to give him that chance, and do whatever it takes to get him there.
24 hours into his care, things are looking positive. His young body has taken to the artificial mom's "milk" well, and this morning his abscess broke. With a quick ride to the vet, where his wound was properly cleaned and a course of anti-biotic administered. Staring big eyed at the vet, and all those that surveyed this tiny creature of the sea, "mumkin" moaned and groaned, and we did our thing.

Hectic is not the word, inbetween every 4 hourly feeds, I am trying to source, locate and purchase a catamaran boat for these baby pups new home. Our original deal on a possible boat has fallen through due to the owner wanting greater risk placed on our side of the purchase deal. So we are "house" hunting again for these scarce 26-footer catamarans, made even more difficult with just 2 hours in which to try and find something. We have located a possible ideal boat, unfortunately it is 500 km away and the logistics involved in trying to get a 26-foot boat down urgently, costing R100 000, kindly sponsored by Beauty without Cruelty is a nightmare. It requires me to be away, for over 4 days, which is something that is impossible at this stage, in order to arrange its safe transport down to Hout Bay.

possible boat for the seals being considered

Time, is not on my side, within days, the high period of pup stranding starts, and we expect many more pups to arrive, each with unique stories, to find their way into our unique loving care.

I therefore ask all to bear with me, and I will try to keep everybody updated as best I can, and please do not think that I am ignoring anybody, my focus is just on saving these little lives as best I can.

For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA