The African Penguin in danger of extinction, unless we all help

AUGUST 1, 2014

If nothing is done urgently, the only places you and your children will be able to see the African Penguin in the future will be at a zoo or aquarium as the wild populations of the species are fast dwindling – mainly due to human activities, says the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCC OB).

The non-profit organisation, which was established in 1968 and is based in Cape St Francis, in the Kouga Local Municipality, relies solely on public donations and volunteers to conserve, protect and rehabilitate African Penguins and other seabird species found on the South African coastline, such as the Cape Gannet and Cape Cormorant.

Most of the birds will have been caught in oil spills, are sick, injured or abandoned and come from as far as East London, Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay and Plettenberg Bay.

“More than 80% of our annual admissions are the African Penguins, which is endemic to Southern Africa but is facing a drastic decline. From a total of 56 900 breeding pairs in 1980 there were only 17 000 breeding pairs left in 2013,” explained Louanne Mostert, Public Relations and Fundraising Coordinator at SANCC OB Eastern Cape.

“At this rate, the African Penguin may be extinct within 30 years.”

But, there is hope if everyone gets involved. Mostert said that independent research has shown that the wild African Penguin population has increased in recent years by 19% directly due to SANCC OB’s efforts.

On average, it costs R500 to fully rehabilitate a penguin. Thus, with a R500 donation, individuals and companies can ‘Adopt a Penguin’ and help restore it before it is released back into the wild.

“Tangible donations are just as important as monetary donations to SANCC OB’s daily operations,” said Mostert.

She said that the centre currently needs a generator, high-pressure cleaner, slurry pump, Perspex and Ultrasonic Nebulizers, a stethoscope, multi-functional colour printer, small display-fridge for beverages, cleaning equipment – industrial brooms and brushes, etc., old wetsuits for armguards, a wheelbarrow, a 2-4m ladder, hosepipes for cleaning pens and design and production of a SANCC OB backdrop, educational material, stationary and display banners for marketing and educational purposes.

They are also planning a SANCC OB Penguin Holiday Festival in December to create awareness and raise funds for the centre, which they need help with.

“Without the individuals who have chosen SANCC OB as a beneficiary in their wills, SANCC OB might have had to close its doors many times during our 44 years of service to seabirds and especially to our beloved African penguins,” Mostert said.

You can also help SANCC OB save the African Penguin from extinction by reporting stranded or abandoned seabirds on 042 298 0160 and 082 890 0207. To donate anything, visit the centre in Cape St Francis or find out more at www.sanccob.co.za