In my next life, please don't bring me back as a fur seal
I've just got back from a two-week trip around Namibia (and briefly, Zambia) seeing the sights and relaxing with my boyfriend. One of our last stops was to be the Cape Cross Seal Colony, which harbours thousands of Cape seals who raise their pups along the coastline. Although I had been forewarned about the smell of these marine mammals, I had not quite prepared myself for the sickening stench emanating from the entire area. As soon as we got out of the car, I nearly gagged; this was a pungent, decomposing, musky smell that I have never before encountered.
Even still, I was excited to be there, especially as it was pup season. As we got closer however, I begun to realise that part of the smell was in fact coming from the pups, or at least, the hundreds of dead ones scattered across the beach. Presumably, they were stillborn, crushed by the thousands of other seals all fighting for a prime space, or their mother had not come back from the sea and so had starved to death. It was an eerie sight to see so many lifeless bodies interspersed between mothers and their pups.
I was struck at how noisy the place was too - constant battles ensue for spots on the beach with bloody, sometimes fatal, consequences. These carnivorous animals have sharp teeth and are not afraid to use them on their fellow species. They roar, shake their heads and sinuously try to attack their opponent. There seems little regard for protecting their pups during this time who, some of which being only hours old and still have the placenta attached, stare helplessly onto the war in the hope that they don't have hundreds of kilos of seal landing on top of their fragile bodies.
I left feeling sick - physically from the smell, and emotionally, thinking about how people can bring themselves to hit 80,000 of the day-old pups over the head per year. I understand that wildlife is a resource and that if we utilise it sustainably (including through culling for products) then this does not hinder the population; in fact, it can give value to the species that would not be present otherwise. But ethically, as a vegan, I honestly cannot comprehend how someone could commit that act of violence towards such an innocent being. Yes, there are literally thousands of seals there and they are in no way endangered, but the physical act of hitting a black fluffy wide-eyed defenceless pup over the head with a metal pole is beyond me.
|A huge bull protects his harem|
|Gull eats the leftover placenta|