Seal culling exposed to the worldBy: DENVER KISTING
PAUL Watson, founder of environmental group Sea Shepherd, yesterday confirmed that they masterminded the secret filming of Namibia’s controversial seal culling at Cape Cross recently.
Watson told The Namibian from Australia that a filming team led by Steve Roest from the United Kingdom (UK) left Namibia five days ago.
Moreover, Watson said, footage that the team managed to film under the noses of the Namibian authorities will be screened internationally on the Animal Planet channel.
Apart from Roest, the team consisted of Lauren de Groot from the Netherlands, South Africans Rosie Kunneke, Dinielle Stockigt and Nicki Botha as well as an unnamed Namibian scout, Watson confirmed.
Initially, the crew consisted of ten people, the activist said. He admitted that they entered Namibia as tourists and hopped from one rental property to the next in an attempt to hide from the authorities.
According to him, one of their rented houses at Swakopmund was broken into and camera equipment stolen. He said it was suspicious that “within 20 minutes” after they reported the matter to the Police, some of the cameras were recovered.
Watson further said after managing to plant hidden cameras close to the seal culling, navy vessels showed up which necessitated a retreat. “They had to run back to the cars some 5 km away and then drive into the hills.”
They managed to escape the authorities and eventually fled into South Africa last weekend.
Last Thursday, the Police confiscated the memory cards from cameras when they discovered those hidden in fake rocks at Cape Cross.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, then said that his ministry was keeping a close eye on the situation. “We are monitoring the situation. Our position is that what happened there was totally outside our laws; totally unacceptable and illegal.”
The Minister said he was shown the recorded footage. “We see it really in a serious light. Those guys need to be brought to book.”
Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, the Inspector General of the Namibian Police, told The Namibian last week that he sees the incident as a threat to the sovereignty of the country.
“If they managed to hide the cameras there, what stops them from putting a camera in a military base, at State House or near a Police station,” he asked.
Ndeitunga charged that “these people can also pose a risk to our security” – and “that we won't compromise”.
When contacted yesterday with the news of Sea Shepherd's admission that they were behind the secret filming, neither Esau nor Ndeitunga was aware of it.
However, Esau said that another hidden camera was confiscated from the roof of the hotel at Cape Cross.
Watson could not confirm whether there were more disguised cameras near the scene.
Namibia has been under fire internationally because of the annual culling of seals along the coast.
Watson yesterday said: “It's illegal under international law and it threatens the seal population and tourism. The theory that the seals pose a danger to the fish population is a fallacy.”