Cape fur seals mortality event exacerbated by local cruelty

Posted by Taylah Strauss on 4 November 2021

The Cape fur seal mortality event continues to ravage the species. These conditions have been worsened by locals reportedly inflicting intentional harm upon seals.

READ: Cape fur seals mortality event may be linked to malnutrition

While conservationists are investigating the possible link between malnutrition and the mass mortalities, they are now faced with another situation. Hout Bay Seal Rescue (HBSRC) operations director Kim Krynauw states that they have been receiving numerous reports of animal cruelty inflicted upon the seals by locals in St Helena Baai.

Krynauw said that individuals have attacked the small colony of seals that live on the beach, kicking them into rocks, and then throwing them into the ocean. She also said that they’ve received reports of individuals using spades to beat the seals to death. All matters regarding cruelty to the seals were reported to the Department of Environmental Affairs and the City of Cape Town, who subsequently sent a team of investigators.

‘It is absolutely horrific what is going on,’ said Krynauw. The most recent report is with regards to a net full of caught seals who were all clubbed to death. Furthermore, Krynauw reported that HBSRC have been made aware of traditional healers seeking out seals for their skin.

Stellenbosch University senior lecturer and Sea Search co-director Tess Gridley responded to the situation. In an interview with IOL, she stated that of all the new pups she’d seen in the wild this year, none of them were alive. Gridley pleads to the public to report all sightings of dead seals to the Seafari app, the I-Naturalist app, and Sea search, whilst sick pups should be reported to HBSRC.

All instances of intentional cruelty against seals or unauthorised removal of seals must be reported to the police or to the SPCA, ideally with a location pin, says Gridley. ‘We also urge the public to keep dogs on leads when they encounter dead or sick seals on the beach, and to maintain a safe distance.’

While results are pending regarding the suspicion that malnutrition may be linked to the seal mortality event, Local Government MEC Anton Bredell continues to urge the public not to feed any seals, to which West Coast Seal Project and Owl Orphanage founder Jacques Nel concurred. Nel said that feeding the seals would make them dependent on humans for survival, which will ultimately only lead to a bigger problem.

Picture: Tess Gridley


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