Cape Cross History and the Seal Colony.
Cape Cross in Namibia offers two highlights. It is a historical landmark where the first European, Diego Cão, set foot on land in 1485. The seond is a very large and smelly cape fur sea colony that settled here. Nothing can prepare you for the smell!
Diego Cão and stepping on land.
In 1485, the Portugese King John II (João II), instructed Diego Cão to commission a ship and sail along the west coast of Africa. His mission was to look for a suitable sea route to India, document and seize unknown terrain – in the name of the Portuguese crown.
From history we have learnt that many countries expanded their territories by seizing unknown terrain and to later colonise it. They took two stone crosses along. They crosses erected, served as a sign that the Portuguese Crown claimed the land.
In 1486 Diego Cão reached Cape Cross , located about 120 km north of Swakopmund. In this place the crosses is planted.
There is an insrciption on the cross that can be read in three languages. “In the year 6665 after the Creation of the world and 1485 years after the birth of Christ the outstanding, foresighted King John II of Portugal instructed a knight of his court, Diego Cão to discover this land and to erect the padrão.”
This is not the original inscription and is replaced with copies. The second cross is not original. It was private funded and is a more accurate copy of the original cross. The original cross is in a Museum in Berlin.
The Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross.
Before we could even make out way to the crosses, we had to endure the smell of the seals. I am not quite sure what as worse, the smell or the noise. Yes, they are very noisy!
Cape Cross has one of the largest Cape Fur seal colonies in the world. They reside here and during October/ November, the young are born. The population can increase by 100,000 animals. There is a lot of controversy regarding these seal colonies. Seals can consume a lot of fish. This creates conflict with the local fishing industry. The Namibian Government gave permission to cull large numbers of seals. They culled 90,000 seals in 2006. Animal rights groups have made heavy protests. They government agreed to bring the number down and currently less seals culled.
There is big problem with the numbers as an estimated 700,000 adult seals and 138,000 young seals are inhabiting the area. To this day no sollution is on the table to bring the numbers down, without being cruel to the animals.
Seals are a major tourist attraction. It s impossible to imagine Cape Cross without the defeaning sounds and smell of the seals. The screams are mainly from the females. They are fighting each other during mating season. Males only come to shore during the mating season.
Permit to enter the area.
You need a permit to enter this area. It is available from the main entrance gate.