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SANCCOB to get third seabird centre

Following extensive discussions, SAMREC (the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre) announced yesterday that its marine rehabilitation and education centre at Cape Recife in Port Elizabeth will be transferred to SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) from 1 April, becoming our third seabird centre in South Africa.

Although now falling under SANCCOB’s banner, the centre’s rehabilitation, education and research functions will continue operating as usual. However, the transfer will allow for more integrated seabird rescue and rehabilitation activities, better coordination during emergency response situations like oil spill disasters, and a more streamlined working relationship with local and national stakeholders like SANParks.

SANCCOB’s Executive Director, Dr Stephen van der Spuy, had high praise for the historic decision and said, “We thank the SAMREC board, management, dedicated staff and volunteers for the trust they have put in SANCCOB and to become the custodians of SAMREC’s vision for the Eastern Cape. I want to commend the SAMREC team for their years of commitment and vigilance to save southern Africa’s marine life. We are extremely humbled to be given this opportunity and excited to build on the foundations laid by the team.”

SAMREC was established as a non-profit organisation in 2000 and has since played a crucial role in rescuing and rehabilitating marine life, particularly African penguins, and engaging with local communities through environmental education programmes and events in the Eastern Cape.

Dr Eckart Schumann, Chairperson of SAMREC Board of Trustees, said, “This is a momentous decision and it was certainly not taken lightly. SAMREC was established because of the perceived threat from increased shipping as a result of the construction of the new harbour at Coega. This threat was seen to be particularly ominous for the African penguin, and indeed most of our work has subsequently been with penguins.”

“We see the transfer of SAMREC to SANCCOB as a positive step for the survival of the penguins in our Bay, since it will mean a more efficient and effective organisation to look after their well-being.”

Schumann added, “We have always recognised that environmental education of our youth is vitally important for our future, and we are happy to say that we have found the same commitment to education in SANCCOB. Again, we believe that a single organisation will be more efficient, and lead to a much wider outreach into rural areas.

“SAMREC has, over the years, become established as a feature of Port Elizabeth, and is recognised as one of the area’s major tourist attractions. We have staff and volunteers who have been with us for many years, and other friends and donors who regularly visit. To them we would like to say ‘Thank you’, and we hope that you will continue with your friendship – SAMREC is still there, it just has a different name.”

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