An orphaned African penguin egg has been successfully hatched at SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) after a leopard tragically killed 33 Endangered African penguins at the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay.
The incident took place on 11th June 2016, after a leopard was spotted near the penguin colony in Betty’s Bay. CapeNature staff, who manage the Stony Point Penguin Colony, were able to rescue an injured adult and a chick, in addition to five penguin eggs, and they were all admitted to SANCCOB’s seabird centre in Table View, Cape Town.
SANCCOB confirmed the wounds on the live and deceased birds were consistent with those caused by a leopard.
It is presumed that many of the eggs and the chick, recovered following the attack, were abandoned due to the predation of one or both parents. The eggs were transported in specialised portable incubators and admitted to SANCCOB’s Chick Rearing Unit, where they were weighed, measured and placed into the safety of incubators.
Of the five eggs, two were unfortunately not viable, one egg was damaged during the leopard attack and two siblings from the same nest were hatched in the Chick Rearing Unit. Unfortunately, one of the chicks struggled to maintain a healthy weight and, despite the best efforts of SANCCOB’s staff, passed away on Friday, 1st July, as a result of a systemic bacterial infection.
Fortunately, the abandoned chick did not sustain any injuries and was not malnourished or dehydrated upon admittance. The two chicks are progressing well under SANCCOB’s care and will undergo rehabilitation until they are ready for release back into the wild.
The African penguin, one of South Africa’s most iconic species, was classified as endangered in 2010. With an estimated 25,000 breeding pairs left in the wild, the population is at approximately 2.5% of the estimated figure of one million breeding pairs, recorded in the early 20th Century. With the rapid decline of this species, the survival of each individual penguin, including chicks such as these, is critical.
Rescuing and hatching endangered African penguin eggs forms part of the Chick Bolstering Project (CBP), a multi partner project between SANCCOB, the Bristol Zoological Society, the Animal Demography Unit (University of Cape Town), South African Department of Environmental Affairs (Oceans and Coasts), CapeNature, Robben Island Museum and SANParks. Since the project’s inception in 2006, SANCCOB has successfully released more than 4,000 chicks back into the wild. Independent research confirms that the survival rates for these hand-reared penguins are similar to that of naturally-reared birds, making it an effective conservation intervention.
As a non-profit organisation, SANCCOB asks the public to help raise these African penguin chicks by contributing towards their rehabilitation costs:
- R230 buys two boxes of fish
- R500 helps to buy medicine and veterinary supplies
- R1,000 helps to feed and care for one chick
Donations can be made via SANCCOB’s website – www.sanccob.co.za.
You can also support the organisation by making SANCCOB a beneficiary on your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card.