The uShaka ‘Dolphin-killing’ Rave Campaign – Environmental Exaggeration Exhibit A

STATEMENT

For those of you who may have come across a petition and other protest messages about a rave at uShaka which may kill the dolphins there, it has become clear that this campaign is driven by anti-captivity activists and is not in the first instance actually about a party near dolphins.

Read the press statement on the SeaWorld website (http://www.seaworld.org.za/news/entry/the-animals-will-be-our-prime-concern-on-new-years-eve) where South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) CEO Judy Mann says that the animals are not at risk and they will be onhand to monitor.

“As with any function held at uShaka Marine World, the health of the animals is our primary priority. We will never allow any function to be held that may, in any way, be harmful to the animals.”

Me, personally, no I am not pro captivity. I don’t go to zoos and I definitely don’t go to circuses. But I do see the role that aquariums and perhaps even well managed zoos can play in raising awareness about conservation and environmental sensitivity.

I know this is the case with uShaka given the sheer number of young school kids and other visitors who pass through the place on an annual basis as part of a sustained programme of environmental, marine and conservation education run by SAAMBR.

SAAMBR through Seaworld and ORI do an incredible amount of rescue, and save the lives of a great number of marine animals right there at the uShaka complex. There is a massive underground infrastructure that would blow your mind if you got to explore it as I have on a few occasions.

So, if there is a chance that this party will generate money that will go toward conservation, animal rescue and nursing sick, polluted and injured animals back to good health, and if it can be done without risk to dolphins and other animals – then I support it.

And I trust Judy Mann, as a scientist, and as a professional. She says she will be on hand to monitor the animals during the event personally. I believe her and support her.

As a parting note, left on a strictly personal basis, my own opinion is that alarmism of the sort that has surrounded this matter actually does damage to the cause of environmentalism and conservation.

Those advocating the issue – cited an instance where a dolphin died a few days after a party and may or may not have died as a result of the party. Further, they failed to consult the world respected and renowned Marine Biologists working at uShaka through SAAMBR/ORI/SeaWorld.

Worse still is that when Judy Mann’s statement was put out clarifying the concerns, the debate was not so subtly adjusted to focus on animals in captivity, revealing the potential genesis of the activism around this issue.

I would respect the activists more if they came out cleanly with their issue in the first place – and used the party to illustrate how animals in captivity are inevitably subject to circumstances which raise their stress levels and potentially put their lives at risk. Then if they quoted some proven research, or cited known instances that would also bolster their argument.

I urge those interested in environmental activisism to read South African journalist Ivo Vegter’s book “Extreme Environment” where he tackles environmental exaggeration and explains just how damaging it is to the credibility of the genuine campaigners for conservation and environmentalism.

If you’re an environmental activist – you should read this book. It will make you a better activist.

3 Comments on "The uShaka ‘Dolphin-killing’ Rave Campaign – Environmental Exaggeration Exhibit A"

  1. I’m one of the activists opposed to the planned rave on New Year’s Eve at uShaka Marine World. An Avaaz petition against the event, which was drawn up in consultation with independent marine biologists, has been signed by over 8,000 people, and over 800 South Africans have joined an ad hoc activist group opposing this event. The group, which refers to itself by the name of Marine Life Defenders, includes individuals from such well-established groups as Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, POD (Protect our Dolphins) and the Joburg Advocacy Group, amongst others.

    Our opposition to the event and our reasons for opposing it have been clearly voiced in our media statements, and back-up information supporting our objections has been supplied.

    Further, an analysis conducted by a sound engineer and a civil engineer, both Marine Life Defenders group members, clearly details the potential dangers associated with an event of this nature if it is held in close proximity to marine animals in a theme park.

    With regard to the research issues mentioned above, a delegation of Marine Life Defenders has been in contact with the SAAMBR CEO repeatedly over the past ten days. Neither SAAMBR nor uShaka has conducted dedicated research into the effects of an event of this nature on the animals in the park. Information that was presented to activists at a meeting on Wednesday last was generic research conducted into the way in which marine animals hear.

    The well-respected wildlife protection manager of the NSPCA, Isabel Wentzel, has clearly called for this event to be cancelled, yet neither this nor the support this action has garnered from so many people seems to have been taken into account.

    It’s very easy to cast people opposed an event of this kind in a municipal-owned facility as wild-eyed activists. That’s a classic tactic. The truth of the matter is that many people with many years of experience in marine life conservation, sound engineering, civil engineering, corporate governance and civil society activism are working on this project, and are by no means misdirected or ill-informed.

    At the end of the day, an event featuring three staging areas and 18 DJs, and a range of electronic music genres from techo/house to trance cannot fail to have a physical and psychological impact on the animals house so close to these staging areas. And surely it is time for us, as responsible citizens, to examine the effect that our actions have on the wider human community, animals and nature as a whole.

    If anyone has any questions about this event or our opposition to it, or would like copies of the group’s media statements, please feel free to mail me on jag-sa@telkomsa.net and I’ll revert with a response as soon as possible.

    Kind regards,
    Lee Cahill
    Founding Member
    Joburg Advocacy Group

  2. Dear Sir,

    I am not an activist, but my attention has been caught by this plea. This party is to go ahead due to semantics and bad wording on our part. Our statement should simply have been; “uShaka is a sanctuary for marine life, any POSSIBILITY of causing any discomfort should not be allowed, period. Regardless of the potential money generated by causing said discomfort.”

    In my honest opinion money has never factored into my own pets comfort, I will go without so that they are happy, as I have chosen to keep them therefore their comfort is my obligation.

    Killing dolphins? No one was drawn to this group by this obvious play on words. However, the danger is there. Not from music, I agree, but the amount of people expected to attend this party can not all be continuously supervised and accidents do happen. Why take the chance when Durban has so many other places to offer. Doesn’t uShaka own the beach there? Moyo is away from the captive wildlife and will be used, why could they not exclude living creatures as “scenery” and use the other areas there? Because “beach party” doesn’t generate as much interest as *quote# “predators swimming inches from your face”.

    Please do not assume to educate us on correct methods of being environmental activists. If your current methodology and stand points are considered, you would not be someone I would be willing to go to for instruction. Perhaps you, yourself should consider instruction on inoffensive political blogs. Perhaps ask Lee Cahill when free.

    Kind regards,
    Caroline Duncan
    Normal person against ignorance
    Well meaning member of average public

  3. On a side note: I am PRO captivity. I LOVE Zoos and Aquariums. So closing down or releasing the animals was never MY objective. Please don’t feel the need to speak on my behalf sir.

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