De Hoop Penguin Colony

SANCCOB has partnered with BirdLife South Africa and CapeNature to establish a new penguin colony at De Hoop Nature Reserve. African penguins preferred prey, sardine has shifted their distribution, causing a mismatch between penguin breeding colonies and fish distribution. Most penguin colonies, which historically were the largest, are on the west coast of South Africa, while the fish have shifted south and eastwards onto the Agulhas Bank. There is a 600 km stretch of coastline between Dyer Island colony and the Algoa Bay colonies in Gqeberha where there are no colonies, and therefore no breeding penguins, which effectively splits the South African population in two.

BirdLife South Africa is attempting to establish a penguin colony, which will be protected from predators, on the south coast mainland at De Hoop Nature Reserve. The aim is to create resilience in the penguin population by increasing the number of colonies and bridge the gap between the west and east populations. SANCCOB are members of the project Steering Committee, providing technical input into the planning and logistics for the release of hand-reared African penguin chicks at the De Hoop site. Several releases of penguins have taken place since 2021; it is now a waiting game to test whether these individuals indeed imprinted on the release site and will therefore return to undergo moult and their first breeding season.