SEAL UPDATE 3 - REPORT MONA LISA
Update/Week 3 August 14 2005 - SOUTH AFRICAN SEAL CAMPAIGN - A CALL TO BAN GUNS DURING FISHING TRIPS TO SEA.
From: SealAlertSA Francois Hugo
Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2005 10:37 PM
Subject: SA SEAL CAMPAIGN - UPDATE NO.3
Update No.3 : South African Seal Campaign - Ban Guns in Fishing - 15th August 2005.
Dear All South African Seal Supporters
CC : Minister Martinus Van Schalkwyk/Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
CC : Adv. Helen Venter - Head of Ministry
A SINGLE BULLET DOES NOT ONLY KILL A SEAL IT DESTROYS A WHOLE FAMILY
(SEE BELOW FOR THE LATEST RESCUE OF MONA LISA)
It has now been 30-days since I sent a letter to the Minister requesting a meeting, to discuss the issue of, as many as thirty thousand fishermen licenced by his department who are shooting protected seals illegally, with apparent impunity and no threat of arrest for the past 34-years.
To mention just a few, the following organizations, Seashepherd International, Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, CVFA,Foklar,gen.tr, SaveourSeas, ActionAgainstPoisoning and Moscow Animal Rights as well as hundreds of others and individuals, too numerous to mention, have all joined the campaign in support of a Gun-Free Ban on Fishing in South Africa, to the best of my knowledge, neither I nor them have received a reply, except for a standard acknowledgement, that our letters were received. This campaign has clearly grown to one of global concern and outcry.
A comment received recently makes a solid point Chris Hitchcock
Sunday, 8/14/05, 4:12 AM
I am lucky enough to regularly SCUBA dive off to the many wrecks off Hout Bay and am always delighted when the young seal pups come to investigate and play with us. Anyone who has had this privilege will know why Francois is fighting this fight. Francois you have my full support buddy.
From: Cape Town
Web Site: Punished Paws
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a fisherman - One who fishes as an occupation or for a sport.
This definition becomes most interesting when after 31-years of Seal Protection in South Africa, a new Seal Protection Draft was gazetted in 2004 and released for Public Comment, which contained the following interesting clause, Incidental capture by fisheries (220.127.116.11) - Restrictions will be implemented on the use or carrying of fire-arms, ammunition or explosives abroad fishing vessels, with a view to the control of the illegal shooting of seals at sea.
Is explosives, ammunition and fire-arms the arsenal of fisherman in the "incidental capture of protected seals" or fishing?, or is this not the arsenal of thousands of licenced fishermen, some even for sport, leaving from thirteen harbours and slipways throughout South Africa daily, in fact going to WAR with our seals, like our soldiers do.(With the apparent blessing of our Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism)
The very fact, that this is defined in a new draft, after 31-years of Seal Protection clearly illustrates the concern of this fire-power to the authorities themselves, particularly as they now seek to :"implement some type of a restriction", far out to sea.
Why not simply ban guns, explosives and ammunition all together, in fishing, Minister?
Over 1225 international citizens from 24 countries around the world have already viewed the Seal Alert-SA Power Point Show - The Illegal Seal Hunt of South Africa, and in absolute support for the Ban, sent in over 691 messages of support, and with not a single comment received in support of fishermen taking guns to sea.
Minister - This is the International communities view-point, it should be considered!
See for yourself
Minister http://www.canadianvoiceforanimals.org/SASealAlert_index.html . .
With regard to Cape Fur Seals at the tip of Africa, and under the Constitution of South Africa in our Bill of Rights, Environment, everyone has the right
a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and
b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that ii) promote conservation, Clearly in my opinion, and I am sure civilized citizens of the world, our Minister is clearly not doing his job.
To all Seal Supporters, whilst we clearly have a right to demand our Seals are not innocently and undefended, involved in an illegal war with fishermen, society today unfortunately is also about economics. At the opposite end of the table of our 691 letters of support, sit 30 000 fishermen, just in South Africa alone, if we really want to end this war on seals, immediately, we simply have to show our Minister, that our concern is much greater, and at the moment, it clearly is not.
So, each one make sure that 10 other members of your society support this, and then perhaps we will have 6000. It is truly in your hands now, the future of each seal's life at the tip of Africa. For if we fail to show support, we can no longer blame fishermen. I believe we just cannot let 30 000 fishermen in South Africa hold the rest of the world to illegal Seal Killing ransom.
The conservation of a species, lies not in counting it's young, but in the survival of it's young. To illustrate this, we cannot protect what we don't see and we cannot conserve what we don't understand or love, perhaps the current rescue of an 8-month old Cape Fur Seal pup named Mona (moana) Lisa, will help.
The government of Namibia cannot lay claim to conservation of Cape Fur Seals, when it issues commercial sealing permits to club 60 000, 8 -10-month old seal pups, nor can South Africa, who only stopped commercial sealing in 1990.
Because both countries were doing so under the Seabirds and Seal Protection Act no.46 of 1973, which is still in existence today.
Under this Act, it is illegal to Capture, disturb, been in possession, feed or kill a seal.
To rescue Mona Lisa, I face arrest and a criminal trial, it being illegal to rescue a seal, even though the rescue of seals is not even mentioned in this Act, for to rescue Mona Lisa, I will be guilty of Capture, Disturbing, Feeding and of being in Possession, a criminal offence.
This is also, not the first time I have been criminally charged or finger-printed for doing so.
HOUT BAY ON THE FAR LEFT OF PIC JUST UNDER THE MOUNTAIN THE SMALL AWASH ROCKS OF DUIKER ISLAND
Mona Lisa was born on this little awash rock in December. Just around the corner from the second busiest fishing harbour in South Africa. She must have been one of the very few lucky ones, because although this small seal rock colony had over 200 "protected" baby seal births this year, by June, there is little evidence that any of her brothers and sisters had survived.
Although this is the smallest seal colony in South Africa, so small it's seal population has never been counted, it generates for the government and community of Hout Bay, over twenty million rand, with tour-boats ferrying over 300 000 international tourists to see the seals and has become one of the top ten attractions in the western Cape.
Crayfish poachers or fishermen, invaded this marine protected sanctuary, going onto the island daily with impunity, disturbing and causing massive fleeing of the seals from this colony. High seas wiped up by gale force winds during pupping time, caused many of the new-borns to wash off the rock and drown.
Up to ten little babies were being washed onto the coastline, at times, almost all already dead. A few that survived the cold Atlantic seas, waited in vain crying for their mother's, until succumbing to the effects of cold and starvation.
Many of these cries, amongst the coastline rocks were heard, and they drew the attention of these poachers, who collected them, and still alive, placed them in crayfish traps, sinking them to the bottom, as free live crayfish bait.
Protected baby seals lost without a trace.
Such is the sanity, that comes after years of a country's, commercial sealing policies.
It is unknown, whether Mona Lisa's mother was shot by a fishermen or drowned by a commercial trawlers net or was simply separated and frightened away from her pup, by the poachers for good.
But, since July, Mona Lisa found herself abandoned and motherless. She being one of the last to have survived.
Mona Lisa, after days waiting for the return of her mother, would have grown very hungery indeed. Obediently, she would have waited, still suckling and unable to fend for herself, her life hung, on staying on this rock.
Starvation would have eventually driven her to try and milk from the other cows, but as life, in an overfished environment for seals is harsh, these other cows had no milk to spare.
As Mona Lisa, grew more and more desperate, the other cows would have had to resort to more forceful ways of chasing her away.
Whether Mona Lisa received a bite to her tiny right flipper or she injured it falling, a severe abscess formed and started to track deep inside her.
Eventually pounding winter seas and strong winds, pushed a now very weakened Mona Lisa off the rock and with the swirling currents and perhaps the smell of processed fish, drove her towards the fishing harbour of Hout Bay.
Late one night, barely alive she hauled her dying body onto one of the oil-covered rocks in the harbour.
For her, with her body weight at 20% of what it should, having not suckled in weeks, death would now come silently and quickly within the next 24-hours, the pain, hunger, sorrow and loneliness would finally soon be over.
Her internal vital organs, will slowly shut down one by one, and with a desperate last fight for life, she would go into convulsions until her little heart beat stopped.
(I wonder how many South African fishermen would have celebrated this event).Their motto in South Africa - The only good seal - is a dead seal.
Luckily for Mona Lisa, there are 99.9% of us who don't fish and think like fishermen or behave like cruel criminals, and so a caring member of our society spotted Mona Lisa, and alerted me.
On responding to the rescue of Mona Lisa and I had to first honour her freedom, her right to be wild.
For the next few days, I would give her every chance in the wild of that right.
I would do my best to protect her, show her the safety of my raft and offer her fresh fish to regain her lost weight and to begin to start fighting her own infection.
Too weak and unable to respond to dead fish. I resorted to force-feeding her whole fish and then letting her go free.
Slowly over the next week, she began to regain her strength, but clearly her flipper infection was winning, and she was not going to survive on her own.
OFF TO THE VET WITH WEAK AND TIRED MONA LISA
Draining the wound, a crash course of antibiotics and a good diet, should increase her chances of survival drastically.
From now on, she would be confined, to rest, to heal and to begin the new lessons, from her adopted surrogate parent, who would stand by her night and day, until she was ready, to do what nature had intended for her all along.
To be a seal at the tip of Africa, healthy, wild and free, if not effectively protected.
WELL WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH THIS WHOLE FISH - EAT IT - HEY! I AM STILL A BABY
WELL I WILL JUST SLEEP HERE UNTIL YOU FIGURE IT OUT - NO! MONA LISA THAT IS THE WRONG WAY - HEAD FIRST, TAIL LAST
HOW'S THIS DAD IS UPSIDE DOWN THE RIGHT WAY - FINALLY MONA LISA GETS IT RIGHT - HER FIRST WHOLE FISH
ONE LAST PIECE OF FRESH SNOEK & THEN TIME FOR MY RUB DOWN - TODAY I AM FEELING SO MUCH BETTER
HEY! DO YOU SEE HOW REALLY THIN I AM - LOOK AT MY RIBS SHOWING
MONA (MOANA) LISA
HER FIRST SEA SWIM AFTER A WEEK OF INTENSIVE CARE - TIME FOR A LITTLE INTERACTION WITH YOUR OWN KIND
PEACE - THESE REHABBING SEALS MAKE SUCH NICE WARM PILLOWS
Mona Lisa has slipped twice in the last three weeks, going into convulsion with a rapid flickering of the eyes, her condition being so weak.
But, slowly she and I are winning.
She is now almost completely healed, and has just got to regain the weight lost, and then begin the slow and long lessons of survival in the wild.
Mona Lisa, over the next three to twelve months, will experience the life on the raft with the other rehabbing seals, she will have to learn to fight for her place on the raft, and she will be driven by boat, back to where her little life started just a few months ago, in the hope she can re-locate her mother, if she is still alive, but if not, she will have an edge on life, a guardian, who will be there when she needs him.
SO MUCH SMALLER THAN HOME - BUT AT LEAST ITS SAFE
Dear Minister, this is true conservation and proper seal protection, not something meaningless written on paper with a bunch of scientific figures.
What is the point if the citizens of this world spend our own time and money protecting our wildlife, when the laws are inadequate and result in seals just being illegally killed.
Please therefore address the Ban on Guns being taken to sea by Fisherman.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA