SANCCOB and Graham Beck celebrate endangered African penguins

BY SUPPLIED - OCTOBER 22, 2015

The past week, organisations around the world celebrated African Penguin Awareness Day (APAD), dedicated to raising worldwide awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin. 

SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) in Cape St Francis (Eastern Cape) celebrated APAD with a public penguin release and a prestigous benefit event in aid of its African penguin conservation work.

Hosted on Saturday, 17th October, the 2nd Eastern Cape APAD celebrations kicked off with a much anticipated beach release of a group of rehabilitated African penguins, to the backdrop of the iconic Seal Point Lighthouse.

The penguins were admitted to SANCCOB after being rescued by SANParks (Bird and St Croix Islands, Algoa Bay) and Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre (Plettenberg Bay) due to malnourishment, dehydration and injuries like small puncture wounds most likely caused by rough seas and cuts by rocks.

More than 200 onlookers witnessed the moving event as the penguins waddled their way back into the ocean.

The 2nd annual SANCCOB Food-and-Wine Pairing and Benefit Auction was held the evening at the St Francis Links Golf Estate in partnership with Graham Beck Wines. Witty, local auctioneer, Jo Brown’s special brand of humour had the 110 guests laughing all the way towards raising much-needed funds for SANCCOB’s seabird conservation workat this  gala event.

Prizes included local art, unique getaway experiences, VIP trips to SANCCOB in Table View and the Eastern Cape colonies, a one-on-one encounter with SANCCOB’s very own ambassador penguin, and limited-edition SANCCOB-Graham Beck wine packs.

Collectively, the penguin festivities raised R80 000.  In addition, Graham Beck Wines and The Wilderness Foundation took everyone by surprise with the hand-over of a R30 000 cheque to SANCCOB Eastern Cape.

The proceeds will contribute towards the rehabilitation of approximately 250 - 400 seabirds at SANCCOB’s seabird centre and to maintain an oiled wildlife response team in readiness to respond to oil spills along the South African coastline – as was hightlighted by the rescue and rehabilitation efforts of 34 African penguins during a mystery oil spill in Algoa Bay, in May, this year.

SANCCOB Eastern Cape wish to extend thanks and appreciation to the St Francis Links Golf Estate, Graham Beck Wines, The Wilderness Foundation, and to the many people and companies that sponsored prizes for the auction, without which the event would not have been possible.

The “black-and-white” month of October may soon be over but members of the public are still encouraged to pledge their support for SANCCOB in the following ways:

Main image: Juanita Raath (left – Rehabilitation Coordinator) with SANCCOB supporters.Second and third photo: Dr Nirene Botha (right-back corner), local Veterinarian, supervising the rehabilitation of SANCCOB Eastern Cape, with friends and Penny Brown (left) and Jane Coultas (right), daughter of the founder of SANCCOB, Althea Westphal.