FOCUS ON THE AFRICAN PENGUIN AND SEABIRDS SANCTUARY - A BLO TALK
Posted on the 11th October 2016
Trudi Malan and Brenda du Toit of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust addressed club members at last night's BirdLife Overberg monthly meeting. They highlighted the necessity of having the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in the Overstrand region. The African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary is a custom-designed, world class, marine bird rehabilitation centre for diseased, displaced, injured, oiled and abandoned marine birds with special focus on the endangered African Penguin. Marine bird rescue, rehabilitation and release form part of the conservation management plan to conserve and maintain African Penguin populations, and other seabirds.
Brenda du Toit doing her thing
Trudi chatting to Cynthia
Rescues of the past meant lengthy delays in getting penguins to Cape Town and birds were not released back in the area from where they came. Now penguins from Dyer Island are returned to their birth colony and immediate treatment at APSS can help save this endangered species. With an estimated 18,000 breeding pairs left and an estimated loss of 90 birds a week for the past 30 years, it is possible that the African penguin could be extinct in the wild by 2030. Thankfully many scientists, government departments and non-profit agencies such as the Dyer island Conservation Trust are doing all in their power to halt and turn around this decline.
Juvenile penguins in rehabilitation at APPS
APSS: a world-class rehab facility
Historical factors that led to the decline of the African penguin include the collection of penguin eggs once considered a delicacy. An estimated 13 million eggs were taken from nests in the past. During the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s guano was harvested from the offshore islands and sold as fertilizer. The penguins now struggle to burrow into the hard, rocky substrate on Dyer and other islands, and have been forced to nest on the surface. This leaves their eggs and chicks exposed to predation by Kelp Gulls and heat stress. Members of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust initiated a nest project as part of the African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan. Some 2,000 nests have until now been placed in the majority of breeding colonies. The penguins readily adapt to these nests and this has become essential in the fledgling success of this endangered species. The project originally began on Dyer Island in partnership with CapeNature with an official Memorandum of Understanding between the parties. Trudi elaborated on current research to find the best model to address heat problems experienced by the penguins within the nests. This issue is key to helping the population grow.
APSS is set up to host tourists and has two feeding times at 08h30 and 15h00 when visitors can view the process on screen. The trust is supported by corporate sponsors such as the long-term sponsor Volkswagen. The trust's eco-tourism partners Marine Dynamics and Dyer island Cruises are also used to support these conservation efforts. Thanks were extended to members of BirdLife Overberg that have been supporters over the years and have been crucial in helping the trust carry out this important work.
Injured penguin being recovered by APSS staffer
APSS wall detail
Brenda touched on some of the other projects the Trust is involved in such as community outreach, animal rescue, great white shark research, marine pollution efforts and the fishing-line bin project. The Trust's pelagic encounters initiative whereby tourists are taken out to sea to observe albatrosses and other seabirds was also highlighted. Read more about this initiative at this link:
APPS is a project of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, a registered Public Benefit Organisation (930032314) in terms of section 30 of the Income Tax Act 58 of 1962 and donations to the organisation are exempt from donations tax in terms of section 56(1)(h) of the Act.
For more information visit www.dict.org.za
or contact Brenda Du Toit
Public Relations / Personal Assistant: Wilfred Chivell
CEO: Marine Dynamics Tours / Dyer Island Cruises / International Marine Volunteers
Founder: Dyer Island Conservation Trust / African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary