WATCH │Seal pup stabbed, beaten by fishermen
Vicious attack on seal recorded on cellphone
Shocking cellphone footage of a seal pup being beaten, stabbed and tossed around by two fisherman has emerged.
The incident, described as barbaric by investigators, has triggered a probe by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the SPCA and police.
It is believed the attack took place in the Saldanha Bay area.
The graphic footage emerged online on Monday following several tip-offs to the SPCA - who immediately launched a probe.
The footage shows two men on a boat, called the Sea Hawk, continuously beat and stab a Cape Fur seal pup while taking the cellphone video.
In the video, the seal is trapped in a compartment on the boat's deck and tries to escape while being stabbed and beaten.
During the disturbing two-minute clip, the seal frantically tries to climb out as it is being slashed with a knife.
The fishermen then grab the pup by the neck and throw it against the deck of the boat.
At one stage, the man taking the video tells his accomplice to give the seal beer before pouring it over the pup.
He grabs the pup's hind flippers, lifts it off the ground and then tries to pour beer into the pup's mouth while it tries to wiggle free.
Before the video ends, the man holds the seal over the ledge of the boat before swinging it over his head and then smashing it back onto the deck of the boat.
WARNING: This video contains graphic content which may upset some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised
Investigators linked to the probe confirmed they had received reports that the men were threatening people who had discovered their identities.
One of the men is believed to live in the small town of Vredenburg – near Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape.
The men face a range of charges under the Animal Protection Act and Marine Living Resources Act.
Cape of Good Hope SPCA Inspector Alwyn Marais said the organisation had launched an investigation following several phone calls and e-mails.
“Not knowing where the area was that it took place, we launched the probe. As the day went on, we established that it occurred in the Saldanha Bay area.
"We contacted our colleagues in that area who have now taken over the investigation,” he said.
Marais said that since the video had emerged an in-depth investigation had taken place.
“I have been an inspector for eight years and have seen some very horrific incidents involving animals.
"This is right up there as one of the worst incidents I have seen. It is clear that these guys were out at sea, thought they were untouchable and no one could see them – so they could do what they want.
“It is clear that they were drinking and in their rampage they video [taped] their attack on a poor seal pup,” he said.
West Coast and Swartland SPCA Manager Louise van Zyl confirmed that they were investigating the attack which he called horrific.
“We have discovered that this video was taken last year and somehow emerged over the weekend or Monday morning,” she said.
“This video is horrible and we are taking every step possible to bring these men to court.”
I have been an inspector for eight years and have seen some very horrific incidents involving animals.Cape of Good Hope SPCA Inspector Alwyn Marais
This is right up there as one of the worst incidents I have seen.
Van Zyl said it was believed the incident had taken place in the Saldanha Bay area.
“We are meeting with the various roleplayers today (Tuesday) to formulate various charges against the culprits.”
Swartland SPCA chairperson Colette Mang said they had theperpetrators’ names and, from the SPCA side, were preparing the docket for criminal charges to be laid under the Animal Protection Act.
Western Cape environmental Affairs Director of Compliance, Tots Dlulane, said: “We are meeting with the SPCA to discuss the way forward and will be bringing criminal charges against the men.”
Criminal charges are expected to be laid later today.
Bayworld marine biologist Dr Greg Hofmeyr said that the animal was a Cape fur seal, probably aged between one and two years old.
“This is a traumatic video and it is fortunate that it was leaked. The law must act swiftly and an example must be made. It is a barbaric act,” he said.
Hofmeyr said that the injuries sustained from being slashed with a knife and then thrown around would probably have caused serious injury or death.
Hofmeyr said there have been unconfirmed reports of commercial fishermen shooting at seals while out at sea, and animals containing bullets had washed ashore.
“But this incident is much more personal. These men can see the evidence of their actions, and are laughing.
"They also seem to be recreational fishermen. In the video you even see alcohol present.
"It is fortunate that they will not get away with such cruelty.”