The Chinese company we reported on a few months ago that wanted to capture live Orca, Dolphins, Seals, Penguins and other marine animals in Namibia and export them to Theme Parks in China has thankfully withdrawn from the project. In a most bizarre letter, the Russian Master of the Animal Transport Vessel dropped off a letter to media in Namibia, and the contents of it beggars belief.
Firstly, he asserts that the project would have led to a doubling or tripling of tourist numbers to Namibia. How having a bunch of sad Orca and Dolphins swimming circles in Beijing’s Shopping Malls will ever help Namibian tourism he doesn’t explain.
He says that people opposed to the project are mostly white people who benefitted from the Apartheid era because of their skin colour. People regardless of origin have every right to stand up for the animals. This is not a race issue at all. It is about the well-being of wildlife. To drag Apartheid into it is reprehensible. Ironically the Master of the vessel is white – Presumably under his logic, he is also responsible for Apartheid. The fact is anyone has the right to oppose projects and voice their concerns. That is how democracy works.
He is upset that details of the project were leaked to media before a decision was made by the Government. This bloke is Russian, representing Chinese interests, and probably used to Governments not being answerable to their people. But a key element of Democracy is an informed public. Decisions behind closed doors don’t belong in healthy democracies. In this case a Government Official leaked details to media, and the rest of us had a chance to voice our concerns.
In many ways this is a victory for all of us who care about wildlife, and who stood up. Lord knows we have few victories, but this thankfully, is one of them. Many press releases, blogs, emails and protests made the government if Namibia accountable for what would have been an appalling decision had the permit been granted. Thankfully the Minister declined the request, and this Russian Captain can crawl back under the rocks with his Chinese Masters.
I’ve enclosed the Captain’s letter below. Reading it through, there is one thing that stands out – Not a single mention of the Animals. That is the problem we face. So many people around the world see animals as simply something to be exploited. Like gold or copper or lumber. Keep in mind the following live exports were proposed:
500 African Penguins
1000 Cape Fur Seals
Various other sharks and species
Anyways, here is the letter.
“Hello. My name is Ilya Sharapov. I am the representative of Beijing Ruier Animal Breeding and Promoting Company (that owns the vessel Ryazanovka). Can you please help us edit and release the article? ALL Namibian Media: we would like to take this opportunity to inform the Namibian public regarding the marine mammals’ project for which our company has applied for a license with a local partner company (Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research) to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to utilize these resources in a sustainable manner for both the benefit of our company and of the Namibian Government and people.”
“As is commonly said in Namibia and is true, people do not eat democracy, politics or constitutions, but tangible food, our plan is to assist Namibia through its diversification of economic activities to create more employment, wealth and income and prosperity for the people of the country to come out of the poverty trap which was caused by the historical injustices of the previous apartheid administration. Thousands of children and adults in Namibia are in dire need of education, employment, health services, accommodation and all basic things which people require to make a decent living. These are the people whom we thought would benefit from a project such as the one we planned to start in Namibia. However, there are those few objectors, mostly wealthy people from Namibia and outside Namibia, some of whose countries supported apartheid in the past and led to the current economic oppression of thousands of Namibians, and some of those who because of their white skin directly benefitted from the discriminatory apartheid policies. Their voices and opposition to this project have been very much strong, even insulting and claiming that the project is either criminal or have some underhand objectives.”
“It is unfortunate, we are a law abiding company operating in many other countries, including in Asia and Russia, and our operations are transparent and always within the law. In Namibia we together with our local partners made a transparent application to the Ministry, which should have been handled through the normal procedures. How can investment come to Namibia when investor-applications are leaked to the media even before the Ministry has pronounced itself on the merits of the application, and some animal zealots start to denounce the application. Are all persons in Namibia as part of their human rights not supposed to have their democratic right to apply, be heard and a final decision taken based on informed facts?”
“It is also most unfortunate that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to whom the proposal was sent never afforded us an opportunity to state precisely what we planned to do, except for the statements which we read in the newspapers as having been said by the officials from that Ministry. Also, in a most unprofessional manner, our application was leaked to the newspapers which prosecuted us as the investors in this project and engaged in unwarranted public demonstrations and protestations against this project even though they did not quite well understand it.”
“Nevertheless, we planned to invest in Namibia in the beginning stages over N$100 million and expand this investment later to many more millions by building a state of the art marine park onthe Namibian coast which would have allowed many Namibians to benefit from the presence of the marine mammals as opposed to only few white owned companies which are currently exclusively benefiting from the presence of such marine mammals through tourism. Our project would have undoubtedly increase if not doubling or tripling the current tourists numbers to Namibia and the coast, in the same manner as is happening in Dubai, Asia or Disney land in the USA. Many Namibians would have been directly employed in this project and others through the local procurement of services and go.”