Cape Cross in Namibia is known mainly as a breeding reserve for thousands of Cape Fur Seals.
Breeding place of the Cape Fur Seals
Cape Cross is a Cape Fur Seal Beach
with an interesting history of a stone cross on the bleak headland - put up, in 1485, by a Portuguese captain and navigator, Diego Cão.
Cape Cross Seal Colony, in Namibia, is the breeding place of the Cape Fur Seals, which are actually a species of Sea Lion
. Along the Namibian and South African coast there are 24 colonies with a seal population of about 650 000 animals. About 80 000 to 100 000 seals inhabit Cape Cross.
Fur Seals are very soft
These Fur Seals are so-named for their thick pelt. Unlike true seals which have only a thin covering of hair, Fur Seals have a thick layer of short soft fur
, which is protected by a layer of longer, harder hair. The top layer gets wet, the bottom layer stays dry. The bottom layer, as well as the fat formation under the skin give seals a good isolation against the cold Benguela current.
Seal pups have been hunted for their jet black pelts
and for the beautiful olive-grey coat which they acquire after moulting, for centuries. The adult's fur is too coarse to be suitable for use in the fur industry.
Males have a harem of 5 to 25 females
The male seals can weigh from 187kg to 360kg and are very territorial whilst looking after their harem of 5 to 25 females. Cow seals are a lot smaller than bulls, they only weigh up to 75kg. A few weeks after the bulls have arrived the pregnant cows come to the colony to have one youngster. The pregnancy lasts for about 8 months
. One bull has about 5 to 25 cows in his territory and only 7 days after giving a birth the next rutting season starts.
Most youngsters are born in November / December and they weigh about 4.5 to 7kg. Their fur is pitch black
and they start sucking on their mother immediately. A few days after giving birth the mother has to return to the sea to feed. During this time the youngsters are very vulnerable and are hunted by Jackals and Hyenas. Youngsters start feeding on fish when they are about 4 to 5 months old. When seal pups are about 7 months old they can stay in the water for up to 4 days