Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds

What we do

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

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ick and injured seabirds are either collected by SANCCOB staff following notifications from the public or brought directly to one of our Centres by dedicate First Responders and members 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.

CURRENT PROJECTS

Addo Elephant National Park MPA Seabird Monitor

Addo Elephant National Park MPA Seabird Monitor

In December 2019, SANCCOB appointed a Penguin and Seabird Monitor in the Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA). The monitor is stationed on Bird Island, and also monitors the seabird colonies on St Croix Island. Algoa Bay is a marine biodiversity hotspot, and its seabird breeding islands fall within the recently declared Addo Marine Protected Area (MPA). These two islands together account for more than 45% of the total African penguin population in South Africa, and are of crucial importance to the survival of this iconic and endangered seabird. Bird Island is also home to the world’s largest colony of Cape gannets.
Oiled Wildlife Preparedness & Response

Oiled Wildlife Preparedness & Response

SANCCOB works with various stakeholders to ensure authorities take appropriate preparedness action to mitigate oil spill risks off the South African coastline and responds to oiled marine wildlife.
Penguin & Seabird Rangers

Penguin & Seabird Rangers

SANCCOB employs conservation staff in colonies in the Western Cape that are under the protection of conservation authorities to monitor seabirds, nests and habitats, and support critical research.
Robben Island Penguin and Seabird Ranger

Robben Island Penguin and Seabird Ranger

This project focus forms part of the African Penguin Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP), which sets out the South African conservation strategy for the species. The BMP is gazetted at government level to ensure that the species is holistically managed and steps put in place to mitigate threats to the survival of the species.
Chick Bolstering Project

Chick Bolstering Project

This multi-partner project contributes towards saving the endangered African penguin, through hand-rearing abandoned and weak chicks, and rearing chicks from eggs.
Stony Point Penguin and Seabird Ranger

Stony Point Penguin and Seabird Ranger

The African penguin colony at Stony Point is the only colony that has been showing an increase in the last decade, and currently supports 10% of the global African penguin population.
Simon’s Town Penguin and Seabird Rangers

Simon’s Town Penguin and Seabird Rangers

Whilst the established African penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town falls under the protection of SANParks, right next door there is a group of penguins breeding on unprotected public land.
Seabird Disease Project

Seabird Disease Project

The health and pathology research conducted at SANCCOB is ongoing and involves not only birds that are being treated at SANCCOB but also carcasses found in the colonies.

Play your part:

Whether you give money, time or talent, your contribution is needed today to help save endangered seabirds like the African penguin, Bank cormorant and Cape Cormorant.