Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 17:31 UK

Namibia frees 'seal journalists'

Seals in Namibia
Namibia says its seal population must be controlled

Two journalists have been released after paying a fine of 5,000 Namibian dollars each (about US$600), at a Namibian court.

The men were arrested for filming the annual seal cull, which involves clubbing seal pups to death.

Jim Wilckens from the UK and South African cameraman Bart Smithers were allegedly attacked with clubs by seal hunters before being arrested.

Namibia's annual seal cull began on 1 July, with a quota of some 85,000 seals due to be killed.

The pair were filming the seal hunt in the Cape Cross Seal Reserve on Namibia's Atlantic Ocean coast.


The World Society for the Protection of Animals said the men were attacked with clubs by a group of hunters before being arrested.

Their equipment was also reportedly seized by the police.

Mr Wilckens works for the Eco-Storm agency, based in Brighton in southern England. He was making a report for Dutch lobby group Bont voor Dieren along with Mr Smithers.

WSPA marine mammals campaigner Claire Bass said: "The sealers know how the world will react to these hunts and are clearly prepared to go to any lengths to keep this brutal industry from public view. There can be no justification for a clubbing attack against investigators whose only weapon is a camera."

Namibia's government says culling is necessary to control the population of seals and maintain fish stocks.

It says the seals eat more fish than the country's fishermen catch.

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