Trying times lay ahead for Seal Alert-SA
From: Seal Alert-SA
Date: January 9, 2007

Dear All Cape Fur Seal Supporters,

      I trust that you all had a terrific New Year,
got some rest and are fighting fit.


      Just before Christmas the Namibian published an article, that refutes the claims that the mass death of seals is directly and solely related to collapsed fisheries, and that it is the sealers that cause these seals to flee and then starve slowly to death., an annual event.
      Its been a trying time at the new centre. Lack of funding forced Seal Alert-SA to do things upside down, building pools for the pups first before doing other renovations. But, as things went, rust from the steel beams started falling with each wind and large pieces of wall started crumbling, but we battled through. I am been going flat out for the past 8 weeks solidly and I am exhausted.
     I have lost track but about 65 weanlings fleeing from Namibia were rescued, thousands more could not be responded to and lost their lives. I have always prioritised my work in a seal-a-day rescue, and would always respond immediately, but for the first time I have to admit, many a seal could not be responded to and helped - there were just too many dying. Towards New Year, things just would not let up, besides the babies under care, some weanlings in the new centre and the "vegetable-coma" seal, I was left with about twenty weanlings being treated on my rafts. It soon dawned on me, that as I was saving these seals, they were not returning to the wild (therefore making space/funds available for more rescues), instead they were staying. It appears, as they have fled, they are now refugees and will need at least 12 months to establish new hunting grounds, which normally occurs during their weaning period with mom. This makes things difficult, as it increases my cost 4-fold and time.
     Right now, after already losing 8 of the 11 babies, each one with such a will to keep living, dying long slow deaths - that I am almost 100% convinced it is the bonding (single surviving seal bonding issue). Half way through I thought we had a breakthrough by adding B6 to their B1 diet, but just when it looked promising, one died for no reason, except one could see the non-bonding becoming a factor. If I can get the last three or even two through, it will be a world first and worth all the effort, but it is still early days. We reached April last year, which is a long way away. The coma seal, after doing so well, as well died peacefully.
     I have seen so much seal death this past few weeks that its disturbing, even the seabirds are dying like flies, dropping dead all over the place. Seal Alert-SA has a difficult position in trying to physically save an entire species, over a million seals in two countries with almost zero funding. I calculated in the very least (just on one seal-a-day rescues for the year) Seal Alert-SA incurs costs of about R250 000 annually (At R500 000 I would be 100% maximised). In 2006, including donations for Seal Centre (which has cost just over R70 000, with still another R50 000 to complete), I received just over R120 000 in total. Adding this all up, Seal Alert-SA's costs were R320 000 for 2006, with an income of R120 000. Nelda and I had to fund the rest. Clearly things have to change for I cannot possibly continue funding and doing the majority in trying to rescue not just 1000 seals, but the species.
     Via Paola in Italy of OIPA, and her site, LA7 television in Italy has decided to do a program on the Namibian Seal Cull and Animals Voice Magazine has asked for an article. (see attached).
     This year, if funding allows, I really want to make a big push for returning seals to the islands. I have great plans for the centre and believe that it is just what was needed. A base to mount all their campaigns, funding, rescues and responses from. Forgive me if I do not reply, although I read all emails, as centre is still very dusty and there is no phone-line, and as I leave home at 4-6am and return at 11-1am, the next few weeks I will try and update you where possible.
     Finally from my fishing industry friends, I hear the government is slashing pelagic fish quotas by 20-40% and that sectors of fishing are closing, with pelagic fish now being caught in northern Africa (Morocco), cut and shipped to Taiwan, before being imported back into SA cheaper.
     We really need to get seals back to their islands as nature intended. Rescue in Namibia is already not possible with hundreds of thousands requiring to be rescued, and even if you do save their lives initially, how do you rehab them to self-survival. South African situation is quickly becoming as severe. Empower me if possible, to undertake and do, what needs to be done. I know the world is filled with animal problems, but how many involves an entire species, involving hundreds of thousands annually. A specie, found nowhere else on earth, evolved off this coast 5 million years ago. If you can help, please do.
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA

From: "OIPA International Campaigns Director"
Date: December 28, 2006 4:58:11 PM GMT+00:00
To: "SealAlert-SA"
Subject: italian television wants filming you
Dear Francois,
After a long campaign of spread info I have important news for you... and the cape fur seals.
I have received this mail from Italian television LA7.
LA7 is very very very important. they want interview you and filming, they want promote your campaign:-)
Much Love, Paola
----- Original Message -----
From: Richard Paola
Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 2:16 PM
Subject: Italian TV production on Namibia wildlife

Dear Sir/Madame,
first of all I would like to express my congratulations for your work for nature conservation.
I’m writing to you from the Italian television channel La7 ( to ask for your collaboration.
We are preparing a special feature on Namibia for the program
Missione natura.
The troupe will leave around the 15th of January 2007 for two weeks and we are really interested in promoting your campaign aimed at Cape fur seal conservation.
Would it be possible to contact you by phone to organize an onsite interview and filming?
As you can see, unfortunately we are working on a very tight schedule…

In attachment you may find a technical description of our program and TV station.
Thank you very much for your precious cooperation, I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Kind regards.
 Paola Richard
Missione Natura - La7
Via Angelo Emo 13/F
00136 Roma – Italia
mobile +39 335 6583631

Technical Details

Title: Missione Natura
Producer: LA 7 Televisioni
Length: 100 minutes
Genre: Nature documentary
Number of episodes: 10
Show Host: Vincenzo Venuto - ecologist
Troupe travelling: 9 composed of Director, producer, show host, writer, 2 cameramen, sound engineer, assistant director and contents supervisor

La7 is one of Italy’s main broadcast networks, it has two channels and an audience share of between 10 and 13% of a 60 million audience. Our sister channel is MTV.
La7 is reputed as the ‘intellectual’ and ‘modern’ Italian television network, with the audience drawn mainly from upper to middle income professionals and under 40’s.
Our television programme Missione Natura features stories on individuals and the organisations they represent, who are actively engaged in protecting endangered species or species at risk .
We describe the projects that we cover through ‘action’ footage  and informal interviews by Vincenzo Venuto our host and ecologist with a principal spokesperson/researcher during the filming of a ‘typical day’ in which all of the major aspects of the project are documented.
The documentaries seek  to inform by showing practical hands on aspects of the job such as tracking, releasing,tagging,darting or trapping for sample collection, mating,etc and describe the problems and relate any successes.
What we propose to our viewing audience is to come with us and follow our reseracher as he/she goes about their chosen activities and in so doing provide an entertaining, visually stimulating but essentially educative viewing.
Thus far the programme has travelled to Honduras where it reported on a project to establish a marine park for the grey reef shark and projects on preserving the endangered black iguana of Utila, the whale shark, and rough toothed dolphins. In South Africa Missione Natura covered the Green Hunt Elephant project, a clever way of ensuring funding for radio collaring, tracking and monitoring elephants in the Timbavati area that borders the Kruger National Park by having ‘hunters’ pay to dart the elephants in the wild and assist in the collaring operation, the white lion project that plans to re-introduce captive bred white lions back into their only natural habitat on the planet, we covered stories on canned lion hunting and the business of poaching and on the conservation of the Cheetah and African Wild dog.

We have found that our audience potential of over 6 million, holds a high percentage of people who wish to actively support those projects they most connect to, and has actually led to italian viewers volunteering to join a project and assisting with it’s funding.
Ultimately this is what we would like to achieve, making people aware of the problems in nature conservation around the globe and highlight those projects established to solve them, and provide information through our programme to our viewers on the ways in which they can contribute.