SPANISH tourist Jordi Blasi became the latest victim of an elephant attack last week which cost him his life.]]>
ACTIONS to stop the clubbing of 85 000 baby seals in Namibia, which is supposed to kick off today, are gaining momentum.
International appeals and online petitions published on websites since the weekend are finding increasing support, with over 3 200 signatures by late yesterday.
South African NGO Seal Alert, led by Francois Hugo, is calling for US$15 per individual from around the world to raise US$14,2 million (about N$114 million) to buy out the last remaining international company that might buy pelts from this year's harvest.
"Pledges are already coming in and I reached an agreement with Australian-based company owner Hatem Yavuz who offered to me to buy his business," Hugo told The Namibian.
"We agreed that the employees of those two Namibian companies, in which he has a stake and who would do the clubbing of the seal pups and shoot the quota of 6 000 bulls, would delay the 'harvesting' for two weeks to give us a chance to raise the funds," Hugo added.
Still, an official in the Fisheries Ministry told The Namibian on Monday that the culling season would definitely start today.
Attempts to obtain comment from a seal-harvesting company at Henties Bay, Sea Lion Products, proved futile. Only an answering machine responded.
Seal Alert has set up an online petition on the popular Internet social networking site FaceBook, which had garnered about 3 210 signatures by yesterday afternoon.
Hugo also uploaded a short video on the Namibian seal hunt on another popular channel, You Tube, while an Australian animal rights group, Animals Australia, has a draft letter on its website directed at Hatem Yavuz, asking it to stop promoting the seal killings.
"Since Canada lost its seal trade in Europe because of the EU's seal trade ban, Namibia has now become the largest seal hunter in the world, claiming notoriety as the world seal pups killer," the online letter says.
"Whether you like it or not, you (Yavuz) as the primary buyer are directly responsible for the continuation of the brutal killings of seal pups. Apart from the inhumane aspects of the brutal killings, the annual seal cull lasts for 139 days in Namibia, and it immensely disturbs the seal breeding behaviour in the colonies this in turn destroys the seal viewing ecotourism," the letter, which can be signed online, states.
"You are currently receiving a lot of bad publicity, and it will not go away until you have reconsidered and pulled yourself out of such a bloody and cruel business. You are a very intelligent and ingenious man, and certainly can find other sources to continue acquiring wealth "
The European Union slapped a ban on imports of seal products in early May. One of its member states is Turkey, where Yavuz has a plant manufacturing jackets from Namibian seal pelts.
Article at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200907060853.html
DR Laurie Marker, the Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), has been awarded the 2009 Life Achievement Award for Conservation.
The now legendary conservationist was presented with the award at the week-long International Wildlife Film Festival held in Missoula, Montana, USA.
She recently concluded a six-week tour to the United States and Europe, where she presented CCF's work to conserve the world's fastest land animal, the cheetah.
In her acceptance speech she said the cheetah are a keystone species that deserve to have a place on earth, but it could be extinct within 20 years if we don't do everything possible to stop this trend.
She added that in Namibia, which has the largest wild cheetah population in the world, the population has stabilised over the last 15 years, thanks to the willingness of local farmers, Government, NGOs, businesses, and the entire community to accept alternate ways to share the land with cheetahs and co-operate with CCF.
Marker then travelled to Europe, where she lectured at various zoos in the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom.
A two-day meeting in southern France with local government officials, scientists and conservationists concluded with the signature of a co-operation agreement between CCF and Parc ALPHA with the objective of addressing conflict between predators and humans.
This co-operation is the result of a recent visit to CCF by representatives of Parc ALPHA, an organisation dedicated to wolf conservation in France, to learn about the success of CCF's Integrated Livestock Predator Management programmes that provide farmers with tools and education to help them maximise productivity while minimising livestock losses to cheetahs and other predators.
Other meetings during this tour included promoting Namibia as an eco-travel destination and CCF's Cheetah Country Beef, a programme that would yield premium prices for Namibian beef farmed using predator-friendly methods.
When Marker returns to Namibia, the CCF will host 30 international conservationists from eight cheetah-range countries for a two-week course on integrated livestock, wildlife and predator management.
Article at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200906180339.html
Elephant-Human Relations Aid (EHRA) realized that one of this years three trophy hunting permits issued for elephants in the western Kunene regions, which was to be shared by two conservancies, Sorris-Sorris and Otjimboyo which border the Ugab River, have only one resident breeding bull large enough to be regarded as a trophy.
This bull is locally known as Voortrekker and is a well-known character in the area around the Ugab wetlands. Voortrekker is regarded as the founding father of the Ugab elephant herds, as he led the four residential herds there around ten years ago.
Younger nomadic bulls do also visit this area, but none of them are of breeding age yet, with the eldest one, a bull called Longshanks, still about eight to ten years too young for the cows to allow him to breed. The loss of Voortrekker would have been a heavy blow for the resident cows, and a sad loss as a tourist attraction for the area and the surrounding community.
On the other hand, EHRA is also fully aware that the two concerned conservancies are both in desperate need of the sort of income that a trophy hunt can generate, and have so far seen little to no benefits arising from tolerating elephants in the area.
After consulting with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), and with the full support of Mr. Ben Beytell, Director of Wildlife and Parks, EHRA decided to make an offer to the two conservancies to financially compensate them if they would waiver their rights to this trophy.
Both conservancies showed the same concern upon realizing the situation at hand, and the effect it could have on the future of the Ugab elephants, if the only breeding bull is to be hunted. The conservancies decided to sign a memorandum of agreement with EHRA to waiver their rights to the trophy, based on an offer from EHRA to financially compensate the conservancies for their loss of income and the meat they would have received.
The conservancies already had a contract signed with a professional hunter, Mr. Hentie van Heerden, who had a client booked for the hunt. Mr. van Heerden agreed that it would not be feasible or sustainable to shoot a bull in the Ugab, and graciously decided to not use the permit, sending it back to the MET permit office as unused. The MET helped Mr. van Heerden find an unused trophy hunting permit in another area of the country where there was a specific problem elephant bull, to honour his contract with his client.
Last month EHRA launched a fundraising trek through the desert in order to raise the money required to buy the trophy. Ten women from the UK, US, Ireland and Canada signed up, and walked 130km through Damaraland over five days. They raised a total of N$140 000 in their plight. This money will be divided between the Sorris-Sorris and Otjimboyo conservancies. N$60 000 each for the fee they would have earned from the trophy hunt, and N$10 000 each in the form of game meat for the community members, instead of the elephant meat they would have received.
EHRA would like to thank the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, especially Mr. Beytell, the Professional Hunter, Mr. van Heerden, and the communities of Sorris-Sorris and Otjimboyo for their commitment to the sustainable conservation of such an important species. This case has proved that through a deep understanding of the situation on the ground, and personal dialog between concerned parties, effective conservation decisions can be made.
EHRA, and the diverse communities of the Ugab River, would also like to extend their sincere gratitude to the 10 matriarchs from all over the world that rose to the challenge, and bought the life of Voortrekker.
Elephant-Human Relations Aid
Article at the following link: http://www.desertelephant.org/news.php]]>