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South Africa

In the Republic of South Africa, the Cape fur seals (also known as South African fur seals) are considered “res nullius,” meaning they have no owner, and therefore, they have no animal rights protection as they are not considered sentient beings.

Along the eastern coastline of South Africa, around the tip of Africa, and up along the west coast of South Africa, Namibia, and Angola a very productive fishing industry exists in a range of over 4,000 kilometers (approximately 2,500 miles). It is here also where Cape fur seals breed, and for decades fishermen have waged a war on these warm and loving creatures.

The Cape fur seal has been a protected species in South Africa since 1973 under the Sea Bird and Seal Protection Act (Act 46 of 1973) but, ironically, this act was never written to protect them, instead its purpose was to control who could kill them commercially. South Africa only suspended “culling” and clubbing of the seals in 1990.


Despite vast protests, Namibia has continued annually to club baby seals and shoot bulls. Here, seal pups are killed for their luxurious fur, and males (bulls) for their genitalia which is exported to the East as aphrodisiacs.

Between July and November each year some 85,000+ seal pups and 6,000+ male adults are killed in a process the Namibian authorities refer to as an annual “cull” – we call it execution because the animals have no chance to escape. Animals are herded in to a group after which pups are killed with crude wooden clubs and bulls die from a bullet to the head. Pups that are still nursing are killed – their fur is soft and luxurious.

Sea Shepherd Cape Fur seal facts