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Shining World Leadership Award: South Africa – Protecting the Seals      
A country that upholds the values of peace by abolishing its army…
A president who rescued thousands of refugees’ lives…
A former US vice president who brings the world’s attention to global warming…
A celebrity who advocates for human rights…
An animal lover who works tirelessly for the defenseless…
An international organization that provides humanitarian aid regardless of national boundaries…
A worldwide humanitarian agency that protects human life and alleviates suffering

These are among some of the distinguished people, countries and organizations in our present day society that have made a positive difference on our planet through their noble actions.

For the purpose of recognizing these caring actions, and in response to the reports about many positive developments in the world, Supreme Master Ching Hai founded the Shining World Leadership Award in March 2006. The pure crystal award represents the shining noble ideals of the honored individuals, nations and organizations whose pioneering work and selfless dedication have significantly contributed to the harmony and beauty of our planet.

“Thank you for this award and most significantly, thank you for the work you’ve done and are doing, and are encouraging others to do to awaken humanity to its responsibility – to live a compassionate life and to do so in honoring the spirit in all beings.”

The founder of the Shining World Leadership Award, Supreme Master Ching Hai, is a world- renowned spiritual leader, humanitarian and artist, who herself has brought immense benefits to the world through her inspiring words and shining example. Supreme Master Ching Hai’s own selfless service and devotion to all beings have been highly lauded by world leaders and governments.

She also brings love around the world where there is hate. She brings hope where there is despair, and she brings understanding where there is misunderstanding. We don't have enough people like the Supreme Master. If we had somebody like her in every country in the world, we will have eternal peace, eternal love.

For decades, Supreme Master Ching Hai has exemplified unconditional love through her worldwide humanitarian work.

Love your family members wholeheartedly; sacrifice for them whenever necessary. And to other members of mankind just show your love universally, and help whoever needs your help. That is the way of love.

Supreme Master Ching Hai’s wisdom and compassion have been a source of inspiration for countless people worldwide. And she further encourages positive work through the Shining World Leadership Award. Thank you, Shining World Leaders!

For her diverse concentration of both land and marine wildlife, the Republic of South Africa has been ranked as one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries, which contain the majority of the Earth’s species.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni (m): South Africa is a mega-diverse country. We are number three in the world after Brazil and Indonesia, as mega-diverse.

HOST: One of the crucial marine species native to South Africa, as well as neighboring Namibia, is the Cape fur seal. By the early 20th century, Cape fur seal populations of southern Africa were decimated due to culling. Fortunately, in 1990, the previous South African government suspended the cruel practice. The present South African government has continued to honor the suspension of killing seals, thus allowing their numbers to recover within its borders.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni (m): Yes, we continued with the good work for various reasons. We do look at species, we do look at ecosystems. Therefore, in this context of seal conservation, we looked at both. We looked at the numbers and then we looked at their colonies. Hence, we feel that it’s our job and our mandate to conserve our heritage, our biodiversity, our future. We’ll continue with this as long as the species are threatened out there.

SMTV(f): Do you think that the seals intuitively feel that they are safe in the South African waters?

Mr Fundisile Mketeni (m): They do. Firstly, remember that there are gregarious or social animals in nature. They live in families. Remember in the 1990s, they’ve increased from 1.5 up to 2 million in the region, the seals, because of that work. Now they are starting to move in the southern region, between Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, because they feel safe. I also want to add that because of our accruements and our work, they are not only safe in our shores; they are also safe in the whole region. I know they are clever animals, they are social animals. Therefore, they feel that safety.

HOST: The South African Department of Environmental Affairs has been working to preserve the seals’ habitat.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni (m): We are concerned about cruelty to wildlife, the inhumane approach to wildlife. If we destroy the habitats of these seals, this is also inhumane. Therefore, by conserving the colonies, the eco-systems, our oceans, we know that we lessen cruelty to the seals.

But while outlawed in South Africa since 1990, the massacring of seals is still permitted in Namibia, where up to 85,000 pups and 6,000 adult male seals, or bulls, are authorized to be clubbed and shot to death each year, and their skins sold to the fur trade. Seal Alert-South Africa, founded in 1999 by Francois Hugo, has been tirelessly investigating injustices done to Cape Fur Seals, rescuing and rehabilitating them. Seal Alert-SA also secured the unbanning of seals from extinct former seal islands, and repopulated one extinct seal island after 200 years extinction, which led to the doubling of their offshore habitat.

Francois: Through major international pressure and media attention, South Africa thought that it was in their best interest to basically stop the sealing industry. Unfortunately, the sealing industry restarted all over again in Namibia and it is now increased to numbers that have never been seen before.

HOST: For his work for the seals in Namibia, the dedicated South African Mr. Francois Hugo was honored with the Shining World Compassion Award by Supreme Master Ching Hai. Apart from supporting seal protection efforts in Canada, over three years, Supreme Master Ching Hai has contributed to the end of the massacre of the Cape fur seals outside of South Africa through donations totaling US$350,000 to Seal Alert-SA.

Upon Supreme Master Ching Hai’s recommendation, Seal Alert-SA also formed the new Seal Welfare Alliance of organizations, which includes South Africa’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and international groups. During a 2009 media interview in Ireland, as on other occasions, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke about the importance of saving the seals that balance not only their ecosystem but also the whole planet as it faces climate change and other urgent threats to its survival.

The seals have conveyed that it is important for them to be allowed to stay on Earth – not for themselves, but so they can continue doing their job, which is to keep the Earth in balance with love. You see, the seals and the whales emanate an incredible, great power of divine love, an unconditional love that could be likened to that between a mother and her child. They anchor and distribute this wave of love across our planet. And it is this love that is sustaining our planet and keeping it from destruction up to now. So, we should never ever hunt and kill these noble, gracious helpers of humankind and the planet.

The South African government also sees the safeguarding of the seals and all wildlife as necessary in the bigger picture.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni (m): Since 1994, we have developed laws, we have made interventions. We’ve taken hard decisions, not only on seals, the questions around abalone (sea snails), the question around elephants, the question around many species. It showed our commitment as government in dealing with our environment. Because we know environment is our future. We normally say in this department, “If we don’t do good now, we’d better start apologizing to the next generations.” That’s our conviction, that we want to do good now as government to protect our wildlife. Because our wildlife is our heritage, is our future. We need support from the global community.

HOST: For their benevolent life-sparing policy of continuing the seal ban, Supreme Master Ching Hai honored South Africa with the Shining World Leadership Award. Accepting the award on the country’s behalf were representatives of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, Director-General Ms. Nosipho Ngcaba and Deputy Director-General Mr. Fundisile Mketeni. The following is an excerpt from Supreme Master Ching Hai’s letter of appreciation:

“It is with warm-hearted admiration and gratitude that we present to South Africa the “Shining World Leadership Award.” This Award is presented in recognition of her distinguished conservation efforts in protecting seal populations… A new seal colony has been discovered quietly growing in numbers on an island off the Angolan coast, and other groups of seals have been returning to South African waters following the government’s suspension of seal hunting in 1990…

The alternatives to seal products can help stimulate innovative new industries in your rapidly developing country and provide export opportunities as western consumers crave for cruelty-free no-kill products. We are touched and gladdened that your Department is assisting Africa to step up into the light of a dawning new civilization where all beings, both human and animal, can co-exist in safety and harmony.

For selflessly working to help sustain planetary biodiversity, for the benefit of all humanity, for your vision, wisdom, creativity and kindness, and for being a dedicated and noble role model, we hereby applaud and celebrate the compassionate deeds of the Republic of South Africa with special thanks to Deputy Director Mr. Fundisile Mketeni, and the dedicated officers of the Department of Environmental Affairs. With Great Honor, Love and Blessings, Supreme Master Ching Hai”

“The Shining World Leadership Award from Supreme Master Ching Hai for the Republic of South Africa and her esteemed Department of Environmental Affairs. In recognition of vital conservation, wisely protecting seal populations as a precious national and global treasure, and uplifting our world with inspiring biodiversity preservation. With deepest appreciation and gratitude for your distinguished foresight and leadership which ennobles and elevates planet Earth. Presented by Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association.”

Along with accepting the beautiful crystal plaque and letter from Supreme Master Ching Hai, Ms. Ngcaba and Mr. Mketeni also received gifts such as Supreme Master Ching Hai’s #1 best-selling book, “The Dogs in My Life,” as well as an array of her lecture and conference DVDs.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni (m): I’m glad that we are recognized globally on our endeavors to save the planet, to save our future here at home. I’m really humbled and on behalf of the department, I’m saying thank you very much for recognizing South Africa for our efforts. Still a long way to go, there is a lot of pressures out there, but we need always try to get that middle ground, that balancing act so that we can sustain the future. Thank you.

Nosipho Ngcaba (f): On behalf of the government, I say thank you for – especially to Supreme Master – for at least thinking about South Africa, and at least following their efforts. Saving the seals is one success story amongst a number of stories that we can tell in terms of conservation efforts in South Africa. I would definitely also extend the message to our minister and the deputy minister. The plaque will go to the minister’s office to make sure that, as she represents government, she then gets the message from Supreme Master.

Certainly, I think it is very important, and for South Africa in particular, we quite embrace messages that come from practical people of the world, and influential people of the world, in terms of how best can we as the world take action to reverse possible dangerous climate change, and where possible, also make sure that we are prepared to adapt.

And as I see here from the books and the work of Supreme Master, that she seems to be involved in disaster relief from floods, earthquakes, fires, I think that’s quite commendable. And we all as citizens of the world are supposed to be doing our little share and make a contribution in terms of saving our future. And in South Africa, we have a belief in our campaign to make sure that we save tomorrow today. And we get the message directly from what you are reading here in this plaque that you have handed over to the department. Thank you very much.

HOST: Thank you, South Africa and her Department of Environmental Affairs, groups and caring citizens, for all the efforts for the seals, wildlife, and the planet. We also appreciate Supreme Master Ching Hai for her support of such noble endeavors. May South Africa’s example be an inspiration worldwide toward the end of all animal cruelty and the vitality of our Earth and her inhabitants.

Nosipho Ngcaba (f): I am going to be veg! (Yay!)
Be Veg,
Go Green
2 Save the Planet!

Esteemed viewers, thank you for your presence on today’s program. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, next right after Noteworthy News. May we soon greet a vegan world, in which all cherished lives, human and animal, may flourish.

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