fast little loans
By Wendell Roelf
One of the world's foremost Great White Shark viewing spots and home to some of the rarest birds in South Africa - Dyer Island - is in danger of losing some its exceptional avian species because of perlemoen poachers.
Dr Tony Williams of the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and the Avian Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town, believes the increasing number of "brazen" night raids by poachers will have a major impact on birdlife on the island off the Cape south coast near Gansbaai.
"Birds pick islands on which to sleep safely at night. But now they are being scared off by these poachers who come onto shore at night," he told Sapa on Tuesday.
Williams said that the 20-hectare island was one of South Africa's and Africa's richest islands, "not so much in numbers but in diversity".
"We have some rare birds there including the Roseat Tern and Leach's Storm Petrels - and Dyer Island is the only place in the Southern Hemisphere where the petrels breed," he said.
Williams said the birds most affected by the poachers' night-time sojourns were African pengiuns, Cape Cormorants, Bank Cormorants and Crowned Cormorants.
"They are most affected, particularly because now is the peak breeding cycle of these birds and only a handful are breeding. To make matters worse, the poaching problem is coming after thousands of birds were lost due to a devastating outbreak of avian cholera".
Williams predicted that should the problem worsen, it could lead to some of the rarer birds moving to other quieter islands.
He speculated that poachers could be landing on the island precisely because of the high incidence of Great White sharks in the vicinity.
"Perhaps the poachers are landing on shore to dive from the land in areas not easily accessible by boat".
Williams said the conservation board does have a manager stationed on the island, but the official has been "verbally abused and received indirect death threats from the poachers".
Western Cape Nature Conservation Board spokesperson Natasha Rockman said that the security of staff on the island was becoming a concern, and measures were being taken to address this, including the possibility of hiring private security guards".
Perlemoen (abalone) poaching along the Cape coast has increased sharply over the past year with authorities seizing 800 000 illegally-taken perlemoen. - Sapa