Feathered fun for St Francis holiday goers


Holiday goers to the greater St. Francis area were in for a festival of a feathered nature this December as SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) celebrated its first Penguin Holiday Festival from 20-29 December.

The festival was officially opened on 20 December with a live penguin release next to Seal Point Lighthouse. More than a thousand holidaymakers packed the beach area next to the lighthouse to see the release of six successfully rehabilitated African penguins. A resounding applause came from the enthusiastic crowd as the penguins took their first dive back into the ocean.

The 10-day festival had a variety of events and activities in stall for the whole family which included, amongst other, a cheese-and-wine pairing and benefit auction which raised R50 000 on the night, the annual SANCCOB Penguin golf day at the St. Francis Bay Golf Club, a black-and-white themed penguin party at Legends Bar and a scintillating performance by local musician, Wendy Oldfield, at the picturesque Caffé Bijoux on the St Francis canals. The closing of the festival was left to none other than the renowned Chris Chameleon who played a sold-out show at the Cape St. Francis Resort. With his unique blend of contemporary ballads and alternative rock, Chameleon dedicated his performance to the passionate staff at SANCCOB’s centre in Cape St. Francis who rescue and rehabilitate between 400 to 500 ill, injured and abandoned African penguins and other seabirds 365-days of the year.

“The festival enabled us to reach many visitors from the inland provinces and also a large number of international tourists to the area. A warm thank you to all the ‘friends of the penguins’ for supporting the first-of-its kind festival in the greater St. Francis area and to all the sponsors and co-hosts who made the festival possible. We look forward to making next year’s Penguin Holiday Festival even bigger and better”, said Louanne Mostert, Development and Marketing Coordinator at SANCCOB Eastern Cape.

The charismatic African penguin is the only penguin endemic to the African continent. However, the species is in steep decline and less than 2% of the wild African penguin population remain in the wild today. The festival not only raised much-needed funds for the non-profit organisation but also educated thousands of festival goers about the plight of the African penguin and what they can do to conserve South Africa’s marine wildlife. As a world-renowned seabird rehabilitation centre, SANCCOB admits close to 2 500 ill, oiled, injured and abandoned seabirds to its two centres situated in Cape St. Francis (Eastern Cape) and Table View (Western Cape) respectively.

To celebrate the New Year, SANCCOB hosted another live penguin release on 2 January at Seal Point Lighthouse in Cape St Francis attended by more than 400 people, during which the adoptees of the 14 rehabilitated African penguins enjoyed the opportunity to release the penguins back into the wild themselves.

Photos provided.