The 11th to the 15th of October is National Marine week where we highlight the benefits of having coasts, oceans and the resources from each of them. We also create awareness of the marine and coastal environments.
In 1990, South Africa stopped the clubbing of their Cape fur seals. But Namibia persists. A quota of 85 000 seal pups and 6000 bulls were scheduled to be killed over the July to November period in Namibia this year. And every year, like this year, activists march, protest and petition for the Namibians to stop. Namibia is the only country in the Southern Hemisphere still culling seals. Although the protection and the sustainable use of natural resources is part of Namibia’s constitution, it claims to conduct the second largest seal harvest in the world, mainly because of the huge amount of fish seals are estimated to consume. While a government-initiated study found seal colonies consume more fish than the entire fishing industry can catch, animal protection society Seal Alert South Africa estimated less than 0.3% losses to commercial fisheries. Officials claim that seal clubbing supports 12000 fishing jobs and that removal of the seals removes the predators of the fishing industry. This year however, many more activists inside and outside Namibia take to the streets, to voice their opinions. Cape Cross is a tourism resort and the largest Cape fur colony in Namibia. The Cape Cross Seal Reserve was established to protect the largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals in the world yet in season, the resort is closed and sealed off during the culling in the early morning hours and journalists are not allowed to enter. Roads to officials seem barred, so answers as to the reasons behind seal clubbing are hard to come by. We speak to a Turkish sealskin trader and get the views of the South Africans protesting in Cape Town. We speak to the tourists of Namibia… do they know what is going on with regards to the brutal killing of these mammals? If the killing quotas are met, will the species and colonies survive more seasons?
Bycatch has been responsible for thousands upon thousands of marine species in every fishing industry around the world. Juvenile fish, too small to sell, dolphins, endangered turtles, and marine birds are some of the creatures caught in the wrong nets. To limit bycatch, fishing in certain areas can be banned which will harm the industry or special larger-holed nets can be used to let smaller fish escape. Different nets are costly and don’t keep the marine birds at bay. For these reasons a little charity organisation has been creating tori lines or streamers that trail behind the fishing boats to scare off the birds and reduce the number caught in nets. The Ocean View Association for persons with disabilities (OVAPD ) and birdlife has been run since 2006. This little community is also fully supported by fishermen in the area. We have a chat to the manager of the OVAPD as well as the Birdlife and WWF officials. We also have a look at how these simple but effective lines are created.
EduPlant is a well-established national school food gardening and greening programme that helps schools to grow food sustainably through permaculture. Over the past 17 years, the programme has improved food security and nutrition at schools across South Africa through the facilitation of permaculture food gardening workshops, the distribution of educational materials, a competition and more. Coordinated by Food and Trees for Africa, the Woolworths sponsored EduPlant programme has seen many youngsters grow things in the garden while growing as people. The programme teaches students how to live sustainably. With the help of very experienced and dedicated permaculturalists, like Bharathi Tugh, EduPlant teaches children from as young as eight years old the importance of every element needed to grow food. EduPlant is impacting positively on a small school with special needs students called John Wesley School in Durban. With the help of Woolworths, some measure of food security can be obtained and instilled in the youth, the future of the communities to live in harmony with the environment while reaping the benefits of healthy food and a more eco-conscience lifestyle.
In Sekweng this week, Johann takes us into the world of the Shamwari Lions. These majestic Kings of the Bushveld are fascinating with wonderful adaptations that suit them to their lifestyle and family structure. The sheer size and presence of them never ceases to amaze us.
This week in Veldfokus we have a close look at snakes. A roadside snack for a boomslang, a python as an entre for a hungry crocodile and a harmless snake that is no match for a hungry shrew!