TIME SPENT WITH THE AFRICAN PENGUINS AT STONY POINT
Posted on the 11th June 2015
This morning fifteen members of BirdLife Overberg hiked some ten km from the Kogelberg Nature Reserve to the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. I had to take a vehicle around and spent some time at the Stony Point African Penguin colony. Here are some of the images taken of these comical characters. The description below about the plight of these birds is somewhat outdated, but none less alarming:
The African Penguin Spheniscus demersus (Brilpikkewyn) is one of seven seabird species that is a breeding endemic of the Benguela current region off the south-west coast of southern Africa.
- They have huge public appeal and the accessible breeding colonies at Boulders Beach and Stony Point contribute significantly to the tourism value of the Western Cape province.
Adult and chick
- African Penguin numbers in Namibia have declined by more than 90% over the last five decades from about 50 000 pairs in the 1950s to about 5 000 pairs in 2009.
- In the 19th century there were about a million African Penguin pairs breeding on Dassen Island alone – this decreased to about 145 000 in 1956 and today there are less than 30 000 pairs worldwide. Penguin numbers along the West Coast of South Africa fell from nearly 40 000 pairs in 2004 to barely 12 000 pairs in 2009, due to lack of food.
Should I jump?
- This dramatic decline in numbers has led to upgrading (or should that read downgrading) of the bird's conservation status from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN’s Red Data List for birds.
- Besides natural predation by gulls, sharks and seals, factors that caused the decline in numbers include the scraping of guano, egg collecting, oil pollution and a shortage of food.
- Despite numerous actions aimed at improving breeding success, chick and adult survival, numbers of pairs at most major colonies continue to decline.