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.
The objectives of the newly created position of Addo Elephant National Park MPA Seabird Monitor on St Croix and Bird islands are to:
- Rescue ill, injured, oiled African penguins and other seabirds (such as Cape gannets) in collaboration with SANParks, and ensure that they are admitted to the SANCCOB centre in Port Elizabeth efficiently;
- Rescue abandoned African penguin chicks in collaboration with SANParks for release back into the colony;
- Conduct moult and breeding counts of African penguins and Cape gannets as per SANParks monitoring programme in collaboration with SANParks;
- Maintain infrastructure as well as rescue and other relevant equipment;
- Data collection for seabird conservation research;
- Assist with penguin rehabilitation by applying basic animal husbandry and first aid (as trained by SANCCOB);
- Record all seabirds released by SANCCOB at Bird and St Croix islands.
The Penguin and Seabird Monitor on Bird and St Croix islands was appointed after South African National Parks (SANParks) and SANCCOB successfully raised funds for this position.