SANCCOB is involved in numerous marine conservation projects, many of them in collaboration with our partners in conservation, locally and internationally. All our projects strive to contribute towards healthy, wild seabird populations through rehabilitation and research, and by raising awareness of marine life and the environment it depends on.
RESCUE AND REHABILITATION
ick and injured seabirds are either collected by SANCCOB staff following notifications from the public … or brought directly to one of our Centres by a member of the public. We also work with SANParks, CapeNature and Robben Island Museum Colony Managers who monitor established seabird nesting sites and identify abandoned chicks and eggs. In emergency situations, such as a major oil spill, our 24 hour rescue service is augmented by teams of trained volunteers.
Once admitted to one of our centres, staff stabilise, diagnose and treat the bird. Diagnostic tools include clinical examination, clinical chemistry, haematology, radiography, endoscopy and various other tests. Our Cape Town centre has an operating theatre with an X-ray facility, suction unit and anaesthetic machine, whilst the Eastern Cape centre makes use of an external veterinary practice. We are able to treat a wide variety of cases, including lung and air sac infections, fractured limbs, lacerations, bite wounds, eye problems and systemic diseases.
Both centres are well equipped with an admissions room, intensive care unit (ICU) for severely sick birds, pen areas to accommodate birds that are progressing well through the rehabilitation process, non-releasable bird area, exercise pools, food preparation and aviary pens, post-mortem room, surgery and washing area for oiled birds.
The rehabilitation process is largely dependent on the individual bird and its diagnosis; but generally follows a specific feeding, swimming, medication and treatment schedule for each seabird patient. Depending on the nature of injury, or illness, birds usually spend between 4-16 weeks undergoing rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. During their rehabilitation, staff evaluate the birds weekly on their health, blood results, weight and the waterproofing on their feathers. Prior to release, each penguin receives an implanted transponder which is injected under their skin and is used for research and monitoring purposes post-release. African penguins that meet SANCCOB’s criteria are released weekly into an existing colony, where our volunteers usually get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labour and send the birds back where they belong.
In the case of a mortality or death on arrival, a post-mortem is performed to assess cause of death, to further disease-related studies and to gain understanding of causes of mortality in the wild.