Celebrating two years of SANCCOB Eastern Cape in suitable style


April marked the second anniversary of SANCCOB’s Eastern Cape branch and the quiet hamlet of Cape St. Francis was abuzz as SANCCOB staff, volunteers and supporters grabbed every opportunity to celebrate the highly endangered African penguin and its conservation.

Alfa Romeo fanatics attracted birds of a different feather when the Eastern Province Alfa Romeo Club hosted a charity drive from ‘PE to Penguins’ on 19 April 2015, in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the cause.

Eighteen bright red Alfa Romeos, ranging  from classic to sporty and enough to fluff out any car enthusiast’s tail feathers, were located at Supa Quick (Linden Grange) and Wimpy Fountains Mall (Jeffreys Bay), where the club collected donations for SANCCOB. Thereafter the EP Alfa Romeo club cruised to Cape St Francis, where they adopted and released two rehabilitated African penguins, christened ‘Alfa’ and ‘Romeo’, back into the wild at SANCCOB’s centre at the Seal Point Lighthouse.

Holidaymakers in the greater St Francis area joined the locals for more festivities at the second local Nautical Capital Festival opening at Port St. Francis on 25 April 2015.  As VIP guests to this nautical themed event, SANCCOB staff and volunteers entertained young and old at their display and stall. Wherever you looked, people were wearing pink “I support SANCCOB” stickers and tattoos, which symbolize the pink dot painted on released birds. 

In celebration of World Penguin Day, on the same day, the SANCCOB team and six lucky winners of the raffle enjoyed a rewarding boat trip during which five rehabilitated African penguins and two Cape gannets were released back into the Indian Ocean. “What could be more nautical than our own penguins,”said Janet Harrison, from St Francis Tourism.

Since the start of 2015, SANCCOB has rehabilitated nearly 60 seabirds at its Cape St Francis facility. The majority of the African penguins have been stranded moulting or arrested moulting juveniles showing signs of malnourishment.  Most of the Cape gannets, rescued from the Jeffreys Bay to St Francis Bay Area, have also been weak and underweighted juvenile birds, most likely to have left their nests for the first time and struggling to find food. 

During the past two weeks, the rehabilitation team at SANCCOB has also admitted a number of special cases into their care. A Kelp gull and Cape cormorant were rescued from fishing nets and line, both onshore and at sea, with fish hooks caught in their beaks. With healthy smaller local colonies of the endangered Cape cormorant and other vulnerable seabirds along the Eastern Cape coastline, members of the public are urged to help SANCCOB patrol the beaches for any stranded seabirds in need of their care.

The SANCCOB team invites the public to join one of their daily behind-the-scenes tours (at 10h00 and 15h00) and welcomes pre-booked tour groups, corporate events, and school groups for their new educational programme: Caring about our Coastal Ecosystem, in conjunction with the Friends of St Francis Nature Areas (FOSTER).

Louanne Mostert, Marketing and Development Coordinator explained the programme objective in educating the youth about the marine environment: “the African penguin is iconic to our unique marine heritage and as an indicator species, their rapid decline highlights the alarming state that our oceans are in. The youth should learn from this ever-challenged species that the marine ecosystem suffers heavily from human-induced overexploitation, pollution and climate changes.”

Sharing this insight, is Juanita Raath, the newly appointed Rehabilitation Coordinator at SANCCOB Eastern Cape, now overseeing the rehabilitation of all patients admitted to their facility.  As a qualified Veterinary Nurse from the North-West Province with a background in private practice, Juanita embraces her move to the coast and the field of wildlife conservation as “a calling to fulfil a role in conservation that contributes toward a bigger picture”.

For more information on how to get involved at SANCCOB in Cape St Francis, contact Louanne Mostert at [email protected] or 042 298 0160.