Activists have launched an international campaign to boycott key Namibian industries ahead of its annual slaughter of 91,000 seals.
Not long ago we wrote a story about Hatem Yavuz, the “King of Seal Killers,” and our readers were outraged. An Australian man with Turkish heritage, Yavuz is now responsible for 85% of the world’s seal market. The Canadian seal hunt with haunting images of bloody ice? He harvests the majority of those animals for their fur. The lesser known hunt in Namibia? Much of it can be traced to Yavuz.
I interviewed him for a story that was published today in The Ecologist; he claims that his operation is the ‘best worst option out there,’ but animal rights activists disagree and have launched a campaign to boycott all of Namibia’s key industries until the government ends the annual, brutal slaughter of 91,000 seals for their fur and body parts.
Every year between July and September, in the early hours of the morning before tourists flock to marvel at Cape Fur seals living at the Cape Cross colony in Namibia, men bearing clubs corral hundreds of pups that are often not weaned. As the animals panic and run towards the Atlantic Ocean to seek safety, the men bash their skulls.
Sometimes they manage to stun the animal into unconsciousness, which is considered best practice among seal hunters and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), but often they don’t. As a result, when the hunters plunge a knife into the seals’ hearts to bleed them, the animals are aware that this is happening.
Almost every country (including those in the European Union) has banned seal hunting as it has become increasingly evident that hunting for commercial gain, as opposed to subsistence, is unnecessarily cruel. But the men and women who profit from this bloody business are equally convinced that their work is justified.
Seal hunting on its last legs
To activists and media, seal hunting seems to be on its last legs. It’s an unpalatable business. Nobody enjoys watching small animals suffer on ice and sand so that unconscionable men and women can wear their fur. But Yavuz claims that his business is as strong as ever.
Through an anonymous tip, we discovered that the opposite is true. Yavuz is being charged more for furs than others and a supplier in Namibia claims that he is “running out of money.”
In the meantime, reports demonstrate that developing eco-tourism around live seals is more profitable for a greater number of people than the annual cull. At present, only a small handful of Namibian locals truly benefit from the short-lived seal “industry,” though Yavuz claims that he is building schools and supporting conservation efforts.
Namibia will start their annual hunt in just a few months, but activists have launched campaigns all over the planet to encourage people to boycott Namibia’s tourism and other key industries. Also, Seals of Nam and Seal Alert SA, along with a film crew, plan to conduct their own survey of seal colonies along Southern Africa’s Atlantic Coast in order to better gauge the cull’s ecological impact.
While I was working on this story in Namibia and trying to convince him to put me in touch with local people, Yavuz accused me of trying to put people out of business.
“Oh darling, he wrote, “In business to set people out of business you have to pay a heavy price.”
My business is to tell it like it is. Read The Ecologist story and make up your own mind.