Saturday, April 22, 2006 5:36 AM
Dear All Partners of Cape Fur Seals,
A momentous occasion occurred yesterday. Both Robben Island and the department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism have agreed to allow the return of Cape Fur Seals to this historic island. Whilst this has not be "written in stone" or implemented yet, I ask if you of all could send a "message of sincere thanks" to the officials listed below, with particular emphasis on the "re-introduction of seals - media event", to ensure what was discussed becomes a reality.
I thank each and every one of you, on behalf of these seals for what you each have done.
With your help, we will together finally see the day, when we get these seals home.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, April 22, 2006 6:17 AM
Subject: Return of Seals to Robben (Seal) Island
In many ways, the arrival of the Dutch in 1652 and the subsequent exploitation of the African people and later the banning of the ANC, is mirrored in the exploitation and banning of the Cape Fur Seal in South Africa.
When Chairman of Robben Island Management Committee, Mr Ahmed Kathrada came out in 1962 to launch one of the greatest international campaigns the world has yet to see, to "Free Mandela", he did so with the following thought; Even short-sighted politicians now recognise that the inhumane and stupid system of apartheid, a system which seeks to enthrone those with a white skin as lords and masters with a licence to oppress, exploit and humiliate those with darker skins - is doomed.
Francois Hugo of Seal Alert-SA with a rescued Cape Fur Seal pup
In 1604, Sir Henry Middleton on one of his first visits to Robben (Seal) Island observed; our boats were sent to the island (Robben), where we found such infinite number of seals that it was admirable to behold. All the seashore lives overspread with them . . . . thousands.
For over two hundred years the islands off South Africa has remained banned and extinct to the Cape Fur Seals, including the largest island in southern Africa - the island of Robben, named after them. Today a Unesco World Heritage Site. Started by the founder of Seal Alert-SA, Francois Hugo launched the campaign to Free and Unban the Seals from Robben in 2005 - http://www.petitiononline.com/RobbenSA/petition.html
On the 21st April 2006, in the offices of the Robben Island "Gateway to Robben Island" ferry terminal a momentous occasion occurred in the annuals of the Cape Fur Seal history, akin to the unbanning of the ANC in 1990 - the return of Cape Fur Seals to Robben (Seal) Island. Attendant in this historic meeting was Dr Herman Oosthuizen, specialist scientist from the department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Shaun Davis, Conservation Manager of Robben Island and Titus Chuene Marketing/Robben Island, Dr Herbert Henrich and his daughter Jessica of Seashepherd International, Michael Raimondo of the IUCN film unit, Neil Hermann wildlife film-maker and Francois Hugo of Seal Alert-SA. Where discussions were held on the implementation and implications of returning Cape Fur Seals to this historic seal island once again. It being agreed by all parties that this reality be addressed.
The seeds of this momentous occasion lies under the directorship of Horst Kleinschmidt, now ex-deputy director of Marine and Coastal Management, retired vice-chairman of the IWC, and now board-member of Seashepherd and the now ex-Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Valli Moosa who is now chairman of the largest wildlife conservation organization in the world, the IUCN and advocates Gary Pienaar and Stoffel Fourie, and their head of the Office of the Public Protector, advocate Lawrence Mushwana, which resulted in the drafting of a new policy for the protection of Seals, Seabirds and Shorebirds released in 2004, and in so doing opened the door for the seals to return.
There is much ground work to be done, however at this time Seal Alert-SA would like to extend it's sincere thanks on behalf of the Cape Fur Seals to all those involved, in this historic occasion.
What lies ahead is more questions than answers, like;
Exciting times lay ahead and in a final note, I would just like to thank all those from the Robben Island Museum who at all times displayed a level of professionalism that is both admired and respected.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA