The primary objective of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds is to conserve seabirds, the African penguin being the flagship species of focus, and, upon identification thereof, other complementary marine species.
- Oiled wildlife preparedness, planning and response.
- Rehabilitation, chick-rearing and breeding programmes.
- Original and collaborative research which contributes toward achieving the organisation’s conservation goals.
- Training people to handle and care for seabirds and other marine species, oil spill response procedures, safety and other relevant skills that will benefit conservation.
- Education and public awareness which inform and encourage people to develop positive habits that contribute towards a healthy ocean and wellbeing of the animals that depend on it.
- Fundraising, revenue-generating activities and project administration which support the objects of the company.
- Informing and influencing local and global consciousness and action, promoting responsible governance of marine ecosystems and the conservation of marine animals that depend on it, and working towards harmonious coexistence between humans and marine life.
SANCCOB is a registered non-profit organisation (NPO 003-134) whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds – especially endangered species like the African penguin.
SANCCOB works closely with colony managers to identify birds in need of care in the wild and bring them to one of our two seabird hospitals in South Africa: Cape Town (Western Cape) and Gqeberha (Eastern Cape).
The Esso Essen spill, which took place in April 1968, was the first of the significant and publicly recognised oil spills. Affected seabirds were taken to the SPCA where they were washed with scrubbing brushes and dishwashing soap, and fed long strips of hake dipped in fish or sunflower seed oil. However, the SPCA was not adequately equipped to deal with the large numbers of birds in need of rehabilitation. As a result, a remarkable woman named Althea Louise Burman Westphal set up a temporary station at her home in Newlands to treat 60 severely oiled African penguins that had been transported in a boat for about 11 days without being treated. The penguins were washed in Althea’s bathroom, rinsed off and then hosed. The first swimming pool was a wooden trailer in her garden. Later, she obtained a big stainless steel dye vat to for the penguins to paddle in. Two or three times a week, the birds were driven to Blouberg Beach in Althea’s station wagon, marched down to the beach to the tidal pool and allowed to swim in the ocean for an hour. The first flipper rings were coloured bias binding and then dymotape and finally G rings, which were supplied by the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute (PFPI) at the University of Cape Town.
During this time, Althea also carried out extensive research on the ‘Jackass penguin’ (as the African penguin was known then) to help her understand its lifestyle and dietary requirements. Early in 1968, she began making enquiries into establishing a rescue operation for seabirds. After more research and planning, she persuaded Dr Roy Siegfried of PFPI to help her launch SANCCOB – a mammoth task they believed at the time would cost about R150 000.
To obtain official recognition, proof that the species was declining had to be provided. As such, proof was obtained through a series of photographs recording the numbers of penguin on the colony islands over a period of more than 16 years, from 1914 to the 1930s. Eventually, a group of concerned individuals rallied together, including members of PFPI and the SA Army (now the South African National Defence Force), and SANCCOB was founded in 1968.