The five primary African penguin breeding colonies in the Western Cape are Dassen Island, Robben Island, Boulders Beach, Stony Point and Dyer Island. Of these, the African penguin colony at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay is the only colony that has shown measurable signs of increase in the last decade, and currently supports more pairs of African penguins than any of the three coastal islands in the Western Cape, which were traditional ‘strongholds’ of African penguins and other breeding seabirds. The colony at Stony Point is thus of national, as well as international conservation significance for the species.
The Stony Point Penguin Ranger Project benefits endangered African penguins by taking direct, rehabilitation-focused, conservation action to bolster the wild population. The intervention forms part of the Biodiversity Management Plan for African penguins (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.
The objectives of the project are to:
- Assist CapeNature with day to day management of the colony, including breeding success studies, nest counts, moult counts, long-term monitoring
- Rescue ill, injured, oiled and abandoned African penguins and penguin eggs and ensure that they are admitted to SANCCOB efficiently.
- Rehabilitate rescued penguins and eggs for release back into the colony
- Provide healthy and safe breeding grounds for penguin
- Rehabilitate the natural habitat.
- Train and develop staff and Penguin Rangers
Penguin and Seabird Rangers play a pivotal role in the rehabilitation chain of African penguins. They receive a two-week seabird handling and feeding course (in addition to the regular ranger training offered by CapeNature) and are sponsored through SANCCOB’s fundraising efforts.
They carry out key activities and duties such as:
- Rescuing injured, oiled or abandoned penguins and eggs
- Maintaining penguin-proof barriers, infrastructure, equipment and the natural vegetation at the colonies
- Managing local and international tourists to the area
- Monitoring, data collection, penguin protection, penguin sweeps and penguin relocation
- Assist with penguin rehabilitation by applying basic animal husbandry and first aid (as trained by SANCCOB and CapeNature)
- Record all penguins released by SANCCOB at Stony Point
Project partners: SANCCOB and CapeNature