First four penguin eggs of the year hatch

First four penguin eggs of the year hatch

On 2 March, the first four endangered African penguin eggs of the year hatched at SANCCOB’s seabird centre in Cape Town. During what we call egg-season, African penguin eggs are rescued from nearby colonies by Penguin Rangers from the South African National Parks (SANParks) and CapeNature.

These eggs have either been abandoned by their parents or the adult penguins were found nesting in areas outside of the protected colony, putting both the adults and their young at risk. In such cases, the adult penguins are relocated to the safety of the colony and the eggs are brought to SANCCOB for hand-rearing in SANCCOB’s specialised Chick Rearing Unit (CRU).

A newly hatched African penguin chick weighs approximately 70 grams and is fed six times a day with a special formula made up of blended fish, water and a variety of vitamins. Another 29 penguin eggs are currently being incubated, with more rescued eggs expected to arrive right through until July. Once these penguins are at a fledging age (approximately three months old), healthy, weighing roughly 2.6kg and with waterproof feathers, they will receive the final nod of approval from SANCCOB’s veterinary and rehabilitation team. They will then be released back into a penguin colony by staff and volunteers, with the help of the Penguin Rangers. Each chick is released with a micro-chip that allows conservation staff and researchers to identify and monitor them.

The African penguin, one of South Africa’s most iconic species, was classified as endangered in 2010. With an estimated 25 000 breeding pairs left in the wild, the population is at approximately 2.5% of the estimated figure of one million breeding pairs recorded in the early 20th century. With the rapid decline of this species, the survival of individual penguins is critical.

Rescuing and hatching endangered African penguin eggs forms part of the Chick Bolstering Project (CBP), a multi partner project between SANCCOB, the Bristol Zoological Society, the Animal Demography Unit (University of Cape Town), South African Department of Environmental Affairs (Oceans and Coasts), CapeNature, Robben Island Museum and SANParks. Since the project’s inception in 2006, SANCCOB has successfully released nearly 4 000 chicks back into the wild. Independent research confirms that the survival rates for these hand-reared penguins are similar to that of naturally-reared birds, making it an effective conservation intervention.

As a non-profit organisation, we depend on the public to help raise these African penguin chicks by contributing to their rehabilitation costs.

R230 buys two boxes of fish
R500 helps to buy medicine and veterinary supplies
R1000 helps to feed and care for one chick

Please click here to donate online. Thank you!