A small group of African penguin chicks were recently rescued from Bird Island after being abandoned by their parents. The chicks were admitted to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The rescue of the 19 penguins brings the total number of chicks at the centre to almost 100.
Kirstie Paulse, the Sanccob marketing and fund-raising co-ordinator said the chicks were admitted following rescue interventions by members of the South African National Parks and a Sanccob ranger. They had been abandoned by their parents due to the flooding of nests after recent rainstorms across Algoa Bay.
“The smallest chick came in weighing just 110 grams and weighed 130 grams by Thursday, April 28, 2022. Our rehabilitation team has thankfully reported that our latest admissions are doing quite well," Paulse said.
“In addition, we are happy to report that seven of the eighty chicks that were admitted over recent weeks were approved for release and set free back onto Bird Island last Thursday."
The remaining chicks were also doing.
"These birds, although small in size, are consuming a whopping 60kg of fish daily,” she added.
Sanccob implored residents and businesses of Nelson Mandela Bay and surrounding communities to support the work the centre is doing for local birdlife, especially for the endangered African Penguin.
“The influx of new admissions has increased our need for monetary donations even more. This is in order to purchase critical supplies, including veterinary care, fish purchases, and rehabilitation consumables, while the birds are hand-reared at Sanccob Gqeberha for the next three months. We rely heavily on your support.”
Readers are also offered the option of adopting a penguin as part of the donation options.
“By doing this, you can select one of the penguins in our centre, anyone you’d like, and adopt them at R600. This money then also goes towards their care, which includes fish and veterinary care while they are in our care," Paulse said.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the African Penguin as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is confined to southern African waters and breeds at 25 islands and four mainland sites in Namibia and South Africa but has been recorded as far north as Gabon and Mozambique.
According to the IUCN, the African Penguin is undergoing an extremely rapid population decline, which has led to its listing as endangered in 2010, largely due to food shortages due to commercial fishing and environmental fluctuations.
Other threats include egg collection, guano collection, oil spills, competition with Cape fur seals for food and displacement from breeding sites, mortality from fishing nets and predation by sharks, feral cats and kelp gulls.