The SPCA obtained an order from the Wynberg Magistrate's Court allowing it to seize five seals which were being abused and exploited in the Hout Bay harbour.

The SCA says seal ‘handlers’ charged tourists to feed or engage with the seals and photograph their experiences.

SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham yesterday told the Daily Maverick that a witness said one of the seals had been beaten with a plank.

‘Two seals were found to be obese. This is an unheard-of condition in the wild and the likely result of the seals being prevented from expressing their natural behaviour, including swimming and hunting for their own fish,’ she said.

The SPCA said the seals were relocated 900km away ‘to an undisclosed location for their own protection and in the hopes that they will not be able to find their way back to the harbour again’.

Full Daily Maverick report