Sent: Thursday, November 23, 2006
Subject: South Africa Baby Seal Centre, we have premises NOW!
Seal Alert-SA started back in 1999 in response to a single weanling seal pup found entangled and severely weak on the seashore in Hout Bay Harbour, a major fishing port.
What is so special about these creatures is that once you get to know them they completely change your life.
Being unqualified, untrained and unskilled, I had to start from scratch.
Not easy in southern Africa when its policies were sealing, and generally a good seal was seen as a dead seal, and above all seal rescue was resisted officially and frowned upon.
Things change. For me hundreds of seals have paid with their lives whilst they educated me bit by bit, step by step - teaching me slowly how to save over 5000, of all age groups in the process.
Driven away from the land (like the seals), I was forced to develop rescue techniques in the wild (the sea), where I would also treat them, remaining free to come and go at will.
Rocks off the coastline become my seal centre's.
To accomplish this I became more seal than man, and I needed a vast array of equipment to sustain me in the sea under all conditions and cover a hostile and cold coastline of over 2000 km.
Thanks to the incredible support of over 70 individuals and organizations (you each know who you are).
Seal Alert-SA acquired rescue beach buggies, 4x4, jetski's, rubber ducks,outboard motors, rafts, a 10 m sportfishermen and finally a 6.5 m pup rehabilitation catamaran.
From a make-shift 2m by 2m old wooden raft to begin, we had grown.
At over a 1000 rescues a year, in an attempt to balance the 300 000 dying yearly from sealing, island banning, disturbance, overfishing, starvation, entanglement and gun-shots, single-handedly I was struggling to cope with the rescues, transport, treatment, cleaning and months long nursing. Treating up to 50 seals at one time, with as many as 3 rescues in a single day - I had reached my maximum out-put, with a 4am to 11pm day (with no break or day off) was just simple not enough hours.
Whilst I was happy to continue in the wild, using all my skill to drive towards getting seals back their islands, from whence I could equally do their rescue.
I had a problem with facilities for the demanding 2-4 hourly rehab and nursing of these baby clueless new-born seal pups.
Without going into lengthy details, we almost got it right in 2006 - Mumkin became the sole survivor.
Still we learnt, and it was clear that we still had one clink in our seal rescue amour - and that was facilities to treat the baby seals from age a few days to about three months, where we could then transfer them to our floating facilities and complete their 12 month rehab.
You will notice I have not mentioned anyone's name's, it is because I have something special in mind.
Like each of you, that have come to the fore when most needed over the years, (saving many a seal's life in the process), my ability as a one-man Seal-Man, to garner volunteers, support and all the things that are needed - become my biggest downfall.
Recently a chain of events took place, that I am pleased to announce, ultimately lead to Seal Alert-SA acquiring its first Seal Centre premises.
This was not due to my efforts, but again a group of people (you know who you are), that made this possible. .
To the left of the tall building (structure), the (blue wall) is a dirty, run-down, roofless room, measuring 13 m by 5m. It is our Seal Centre.
A place to store our equipment, rescue boats and a protected secure area for treating the pups.
It is a place where from Seal-Life can be nurtured, grown and developed, as each seal season begins in mid-November.
With this new beginning, my story ends.
I therefore extend an invitation to each one of you (to make contact with my full group I post this to and of course your own groups) to come together, in one big family, and decide (if you so wish) what and how you would like your seal centre to develop and grow.
I'm the Seal-Man, I do the rescues and treatment (and contribute financially what I can), and naturally design the facility.
The rest is yours to decide, most importantly how do we tell your story, your involvement and above all how do we thank each one of you.
One thing is certain, I would like to see each one of your names on the wall, and a booklet about how you all got us here.
Starting tomorrow, we need to remove all the discarded rubbish inside, scrap the walls, lay a smooth concrete floor, paint the walls, install a roller door.
We need chest freezers, and an internal baby seal centre.
My plans are to use an area of 3m by 8m, inside this open roofed room to construct, a 1m high, 3m wide, 8m long pool, in the centre a sloping "tiny island", for the pups home away from home.
If you would like to contribute in anyway financially (to assist with the building of this project), herewith is once again my banking details.
Further plans involve the pier pictured (on the right), constructing a cage/pool for larger seals, and a ramp into the sea.
To the right of these pictures is our floating rafts and catamaran.
May I at this time thank each one of you, each part you played whether financial or awareness or just in thought, were the pieces of the puzzle that made it fit.
As the fishermen that rescued our latest baby seal pup said, its changed his life, he feels better everyday for what he did - Thank You, on behalf of these wonderful seals.
To mail a donation directly to Seal Alert-SA:
HEREWITH IS FURTHER DETAILS FOR BANK TRANSFERS:
ZAR is South AfricanRand
More information to be able to send the money via internet:
SEAL ALERT-SA ACC : 911 2201 321
BRANCH CODE : 632 005
SWIFT CODE : ABSAZAJJ
BANK : ABSA
SA NAT.CLEARING CODE
BIC: (SWIFT-CODE) ABSAZAJJ
Bank name : ABSA
Address : DELPHI ARCH OFFICE PARK, RAATS DRIVE, TABLE VIEW
City/code : TABLE VIEW, 7439
Country : South Africa
For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA