Namibia is the last country in the southern hemisphere where seal harvesting is still practised, and its annual cull is set to begin on Saturday.
Seal fur is sold for export and the government says culling its seal population helps to protect fish stocks. Some East Asian nations also import seal penises, which some men eat in the hope it will boost their virility.
But conservationist Naude Dreyer tells the BBC that killing these seals isn’t justified:
Quote Message: It’s 80,000 pups and 6,000 bulls every year.
Quote Message: It was always sold to the fur trade but a few years ago the EU blocked the import of furs, so this market has crashed out completely.
Quote Message: But the bulls are still being harvested, mainly for their genitalia which is being transported to the East.
uote Message: The market has changed completely but the [cull] quota still says the same every year.
Mr Dreyer argues that some of the methods are cruel, and says the income from seal tourism would be far greater than the income from seal body parts:
Quote Message: The practice itself is brutal and archaic. That is a very big part of the opposition – the fact that the pups are still being clubbed. But, that being said, the number of pups being killed in this practice are completely reduced – they are targeting a fraction of the number the quote has allocated.
Quote Message: [Namibia’s coast] is one of the few places in the world were you can get so close to so many wild animals… You can come in and see 100,000 seals at one time.