South Africa: hundreds of Cape fur seal killed by marine nets

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South Africa: hundreds of Cape fur seal killed by marine nets

According to the first results of a study begun in 2018 to investigate the impact of pollution on bear seal specimens in Namibia, researchers have documented hundreds of dead Cape fur seal strangled by fishing nets or fishing lines.

The project involved the University of Stellenbosch, researchers from the Namibian Dolphin Project and the Ocean Conservation Namibia association. Volunteers from the Ocean Conservation Namibia association have been actively involved in rescuing the trapped animals.

The trapping rate is 1 in every 500 animals. Of the 347 trapped animals recorded by researchers between 2018 and March 2020, only 191 were rescued and survived after the cares. Tess Gridley, co-director of the Namibia Dolphin Project, said: "Once trapped, these animals face an uncertain and very painful future.

Finding food becomes much more difficult, injuries from fishing nets can become deep and debilitating. and in many cases cause death. Plastic pollution, and especially fishing accessories lost at sea, have a huge impact on the marine ecosystem: a change in policy is needed, such as the provision of incentives to collect dispersed networks, but also the use of alternative materials to plastic."

Cape fur seal is not an endangered species, but plastic pollution and the presence of objects used for fishing are causing death and suffering for these beautiful animals.

Biology of the Cape fur seal

Cape fur seal has a big and wide head and a pointed snout.

Males range in color from brown to dark gray, but have a darker mane and light underparts. They reach 2.2 m in length and weigh 200–360 kg. The color of the females varies between gray and light brown; the lower regions are dark, while the throat is clear.

They measure 1.7 m in length and weigh an average of 120 kg. At birth, the cubs are black, but turn gray with pale throats after moulting. Cape fur seals feed mainly on bony fish, but also on cephalopods, crustaceans and even birds.

The Australian subspecies feeds on the bottom of the continental shelf, while the African subspecies feeds on the open ocean. Australian fur seals were hunted in large numbers for commercial purposes between 1798 and 1825.

This hunting was only banned in 1923 and the populations of these pinnipeds are still recovering. Breeding sites are protected by law. However, the Tasmanian government, in October 2000, authorized the killing of harmful sea lions.

The South African fur seals, despite the annual slaughter, still enjoy a very large and healthy population. Pic by Namibian Dolphin Project

Chinese Mine is driving guinea chimpanzees to extinction

A gigantic iron mine in Guinea threatens to permanently extinguish the chimpanzee, already at risk of extinction, being on the IUCN red list.

Building the necessary infrastructure would cost many animal lives and the destruction of a habitat that is now small and essential for the small number of chimps left. The unexploited iron mine, the largest in the world, is located in the Simandou mountains, and is now owned by China, despite being in Guinea.

The deposits contain more than 8.6 billion tons of iron ore with an average mineral content of 65%. According to the IUCN, in 2016 the population of western chimpanzees decreased by 80% from 1990 to 2014. It is therefore one step away from extinction in the wild.

The entire area of ​​Guinea is home to nearly two-thirds of the remaining 52,800 western chimpanzees estimated to be in the wild,. According to a Reuters analysis of satellite images provided by Planet Labs, extensive tunnel work has been underway for several months.

An image from June 28 shows two main construction areas at either end of the tunnel, connected by a new access road through the mountains. To carry out the construction of the infrastructure, the Chinese must blow up a railway tunnel in what is the habitat for a species of chimpanzee in danger of extinction. Unbelievable but true: it would seem that the permissions would be given.