Education

Diamonds are Forever. Seals are Not.

seals

“Diamonds are Forever, Seals are Not.”

Namibia is famous for its diamond-rich seabed but it is also fast becoming legendary for its cruel seal hunting practices. Gaining a reputation that will surpass even that of Canada’s, the beaches of Namibia are witness to the slaughter of 85,000 cape fur seal pups and 6,000 cape fur seal bulls each year. Valued for their luxurious fur and genitalia, the government of Namibia defends its “hunting season” as economic gains and as a means of protecting their fisheries.

However, according to two non-profit organizations, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Earthrace Conservation, seal hunting only damages the ecosystem and only generates $500,000 worth of yearly income as opposed to the estimated $2 million dollars yearly income based on tourism and seal watching.

A Dying Industry

As seal hunting and the demand for seal fur and skin is declining, Namibia continues and remains to be the only country where commercial seal hunting is permitted. Various undercover footage and investigations reveal that despite government regulation and detailed procedures on “humane methods”, illegal practices are very much the norm. Reports showed going above quota, hunting without permits, and skinning live seal pups. There is perhaps a pervading culture of silence and harassment as even investigators are attacked.

The Diamond Connection

As hunting occurs on property owned by De Beers, concerned sellers and shop owners are joining animal rights activists in voicing their horror at the (supposed) indifference demonstrated by the diamond industry giant.

In 2006 however, De Beers in communication with Sea Shepherd relayed their shock and non-support for seal hunting. Stating that it “has no involvement with the current cull”, the letter continues to explain that De Beers only rents the property and “does not have the right to limit access” and its privileges are only “limited to the prospecting and mining of diamonds”.

De Beers can wash their hands as long as they like but the sad reality is that thousands of seal pups have been slaughtered needlessly since the publication of the letter. Without direct action from the company and the larger diamond industry, atrocities against these beautiful creatures will persist. Given its influence and long-time economic partnership with the Namibian government, it’s about time that De Beers expresses its condemnation of a practice so fully endorsed by the government. The company has already shown resolve in its procurement of non-conflict diamonds, it needs to step up and show that it won’t tolerate such violence on Elizabeth Bay.

The killing continues

This coming July, when seals return to their colonies, over 90,000 cape fur seals will be sacrificed for their 2 dollar coat.

Yes, glamor comes at a premium – and often – that price is too heavy to fathom. International treaties and regulations ensure that stones sold in the market are procured and held to the highest ethical standards.

De Beers and other diamond mining companies should start looking at their economic influence and proactively move to halt horrible practices, even if those practices do not directly affect their industry.

Style and fashion should be fun but where’s the pleasure if it is tainted with blood?