The members of BirdLife Overberg held their first golf day at the Hermanus Golf Club on 10 June 2010 in an attempt to raise funds for educational projects about the endangered African Penguin. Onrus artist Angela Key further donated a painting of the bird and this was raffled as part of the fund raising campaign. The decision to launch a campaign to highlight the plight of the African Penguin was based on a few interesting and often alarming facts:
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.
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.
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.
The committee of BirdLife Overberg announced yesterday that R 30,000-00 was raised through this project. On Saturday 4 December R 10,000-00 will be donated to each of BirdLife South Africa's Seabirds Division, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). BirdLife Overberg chairman Anton Odendal said that these three organisations have been at the forefront of conservation work on the African Penguin for a long time and expressed the hope that this small contribution would further assist them with their conservation efforts. He also thanked all individuals and organisations who had contributed to this worthy cause and highlighted the contributions of the Hermanus Golf Club, artist Angela Key, Mission House Gallery in Onrus, Strettin's Gin and Tru-Cape.
The next BirdLife Overberg golf day will be on 24 February 2011 and this will be in aid of the development of birding resources for environmental education centres in the Overberg. Individuals and organisations wanting to contribute to this worthy cause or wanting to participate in the day are invited to contact Anton at email@example.com or 0825503347.
Cynthia Swain receiving cheque for SANCCOB
Wilfred Chivell receiving cheque for the Dyer Island Conservatuin Trust
BLO member Auriel Miller receiving her painting
Dr. Ross Wanless gets the cheque for the Seabirds Division. BLSA Chairman Peter Sullivan & CEO Mark Anderson look on