Saturday, October 16, 2010

Leopard Seal Killers Exposed Through Facebook

Leopard seal

A group of three men who had allegedly attacked and killed a leopard seal by throwing rocks at it, and posing for pictures were uncovered via Facebook. The killers were Michael Matthews, Harley Mckenzie, and Phillip Horrell, who were charged at New Zealand's Invercargill District Court for taking part in brutally injuring the poor creature on October 27th last year near Rowellan Burn at the Te Waewae Bay. The three men are faced with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine up to $250,000. According to Alan Christie, principal compliance officer of the Department of Conservation, the three men were driving past a beach when they spotted the animal. Horrell filmed the seal while his two friends threw rocks at it, in order to agitate it. During the process, the seal was hit twice in the head and appeared to lose consciousness. After that, the pictures were taken of Mathews and Mckenzie which were placed in a file titled "Good Times" by Horrell and uploaded on the networking site. According to Horrell's lawyer Bill Dawkins, his client did not participate in such actions and could be heard telling them to stop at that time. However, Judge Jane Farish stated that he was more worried about personal safety and could have been heard laughing and making obscene comments through the video. Furthermore, Judge Farish said that it was a barbaric act. Horrell was fined $5000 and Matthews was fined $7000. Mckenzie, on the other hand, was previously convicted for animal cruelty and was ordered back to custody for his sentence scheduled for November 12th.

I'm extremely appalled and disgusted by the fact that a group of three friends would have some fun simply by intentionally torturing and ultimately killing a wild creature. But what really shocks me is that these alleged killers turned out to be sheep shearers, which means that they have been around animals (sheep in particular). I guess when they tried to throw rocks at the leopard seal, it may have been something like a test of courage with an extremely saddening result. What these three men did made me think back to my younger days when I was visiting a nature park in Gandhinagar called Indroda Park. There, I saw a group of school kids who were throwing rocks at a marsh crocodile inside its exhibit. It definitely appeared to be extremely barbaric to see a bunch of innocent-looking kids commit such an atrocious act. But I think what these three friends did to the seal and posting their recorded acts on Facebook was far more horrendous.

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