A unique conservation project initiated by Table Mountain National Park (SANParks), the City of Cape Town and SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) is helping to conserve the endangered African penguin population nesting in the Burgher’s Walk area next to the popular Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town.
The Burgher’s Walk Restoration Project is ensuring that people and penguins can successfully co-exist by protecting the resident penguin population from the curious public, predation by domestic animals and from being run over by vehicles making use of the road above the site.
Since the project’s inception, a low-impact, environmentally friendly boardwalk has been constructed, rehabilitation fencing has been erected and the natural vegetation of the area has been restored.
Importantly, the project helps to employ four permanent penguin-conservation staff, known as penguin monitors, who manage the project area. Penguin monitors, most of whom are from previously disadvantaged areas, undergo a two-week Seabird Handling and Feeding course at SANCCOB, in addition to the regular ranger training offered by SANParks. These penguin protectors perform key conservation-specific tasks within the 1.63-hectare penguin colony at Boulders Beach, which includes rescuing penguins at risk and transporting them to SANCCOB for rehabilitation, maintaining penguin-proof barriers, collecting penguin data and cultivating the natural vegetation. Given the large number of visitors to the area, they also perform a valuable environmental awareness function by providing visitors with relevant penguin information, explaining the sensitive nature of the area and redirecting large tour groups to the visitor-friendly Boulders Beach recreational area.
During a recent hand-over event, which was attended by representatives from the City of Cape Town, SANParks and SANCCOB, the penguin monitors working at Burgher’s Walk were provided with new boots, gloves and a brush cutter, essential tools for managing this vital habitat for African penguins. To commemorate the occasion, four African penguins that were successfully rehabilitated at SANCCOB’s seabird centre were released back into the wild at Burgher’s Walk.
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