Sea Shepherd using unmanned aircrafts in an attempt to document the Namibian seal slaughter at Cape Cross
by Jennifer Mishler
Categories: Animals, Causes.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society undertook a dangerous campaign in Namibia last year, in an attempt to document the seal hunt at Cape Cross, a tourist spot and a designated seal reserve. Their operation was shown on Animal Planet’s special, “Seal Wars.” This year, their land-based team, O.R.C.A.Force, has returned to the Namibian desert with some new tricks up their sleeves.

According to Sea Shepherd, the quota for this year’s cull is 90,000 baby seals, a slaughter that they call “one of the biggest marine wildlife crimes known to man.” O.R.C.A.Force activists have reportedly crossed into Namibia secretly and carrying high-tech equipment. ”Last year a government official called us ‘Enemies of the State’ for interfering with their commercial sealing operation. That statement made us even more determined to come back and bring an end to the slaughter of the endangered cape fur seals,” said O.R.C.A.Force director Laurens de Groot.

Despite increased armed security around the Cape Cross seal colony and a navy vessel patrolling  the coast, Sea Shepherd remains in an undisclosed location in the desert, staying in during the hot days and working at night. The team plans to obtain footage of the gruesome slaughter. To do this, they are now using unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) or drones. The organization reports the first-ever flight of a UAV over the Cape Cross colony during the seal hunt season. Along with Sea Shepherd campaign veterans, two UAV experts have joined the campaign.

de Groot says, “It‘s an absolute privilege to work with such a great team. The aviators provide exceptional skills. They look at anything and immediately start wondering how they can make it fly. It’s like they’ve thrown Charles Lindbergh, the Wright brothers, and MacGyver in a magic hat and pulled out these two world-class experts.”

The test flight was a success, but the UAV is going up against strong winds and blowing sand as it makes the 7 mile flight. Sea Shepherd also says that the UAV was homemade on a small budget. The pilot, referred to as “Mr. Biggles,” says “We’re making the impossible possible in this remote place, far away from electricity or other resources that we generally need to make something fly. But I’m convinced we can do it again, this time with cameras.”

Photo Credit: Vladislavs Zarovs / Shutterstock.com

About Jennifer Mishler

Jennifer Mishler is a writer, and a vegan and animal activist. When she's not writing, you can often find her volunteering or advocating for animal, environmental and human rights causes. Along with writing for Ecorazzi, she has contributed writing for nonprofits like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and enjoys blogging. She resides in the Washington, DC area (and loves all the vegan food it has to offer). Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jennygonevegan.

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  • Simon Martin

    Just to share some facts:
    1) Cape Fur seals are NOT endangered2) Namibia (like every sovereign country) has the right to create and implement sustainable wildlife management policies.3) Namibia has a stealer conservation record; in fact conservation of the environment is enshrined in its constitution.

    It would think an “animal advocate” would check her facts before posting on such a serious topic as this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001196054130 Jamie McCroskey

    Ironic for the sea shepherds to talk about crimes isn’t it? snicker.
    Namibia won the 2012 Markhor for “Outstanding conservation” it has been said Namibia has “the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told” since Namibia gained her independence in 1990. They should be applauding Namibia but instead they try to demonize it. The overabundant fur seals are the #1 threat to the ENDANGERED African penguins, like it or not sometimes population needs controls. But we can’t expect the sea shepherd or this writer to give people the full picture, it’s simply beyond their grasp.

  • romika3

    First SSCS in Namibia is a farce…down there flying radio controlled airplanes like a bunch of kids. Why don’t they just get out among the sealers and begin taunting them, demonizing them, phone homes of sealers and threaten to burn their boats and skin their children. Paul Watson and his crowd did that in eastern Canada… did you ever wonder why they are not doing this in Namibia. Funny Watson and his followers claim that they will give their lives for a seal or a whale….