Penguin & Seabird Rangers

SANCCOB’s Penguin and Seabird Rangers Initiative is in partnership with various South African nature conservation management authorities, including CapeNature, South African National Parks (SANParks), Robben Island Museum, Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) and the Environmental Management Department, which is part of the City of Cape Town’s Spatial Planning and Environment Directorate.

SANCCOB deploys a total of seven conservation staff in colonies in the Western Cape that are under the protection of conservation authorities, i.e. the Simon’s Town colony, the Stony Point colony in Betty’s Bay, as well as Robben Island.

The SANCCOB Penguin and Seabird Rangers carry out the following:

  • Rescue injured, oiled or abandoned penguins and seabirds
  • Conduct moult counts of African penguins and participate in other seabird censuses
  • Maintains infrastructure, equipment and the natural vegetation at the colonies
  • Assists with monitoring seabirds
  • Data collection and other research activities led by the SANCCOB Research Manager.

CLICK HERE to watch a video (courtesy of Artis) on SANCCOB’s on-the-ground penguin conservation efforts offers a glimpse into the work being undertaken every day to save these iconic seabirds.

In August 2018, SANCCOB appointed a new Penguin and Seabird Ranger on Robben Island. At approximately 574 hectares in extent, Robben Island is South Africa’s largest coastal island, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On 2 April 2019, it was also declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA) by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

Robben Island is managed by Robben Island Museum (RIM) and is home to approximately 1,400 breeding pairs of African penguins, 50 breeding pairs of Bank cormorants, and 740 breeding pairs of Cape cormorants, as well as other seabirds. All three seabirds are endangered.

In the future, we hope to expand the project into the Eastern Cape, where the largest populations of African penguins are found on Bird and St Croix islands. These two islands account for 53% of the total African penguin population in southern Africa, and are of crucial importance to the survival of this iconic and endangered seabird. Bird Island is also home to South Africa’s largest colony of Cape gannets.