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April 23, 2009

Oiled African penguins trucked to Cape Town to recover

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Penguins on Boulders Beach, photo courtesy wagga_caro

Earlier in April, 129 African penguins were discovered drenched in oil from an unidentified oil spill off the Namibian coast near Lüderitz. A team of experts and volunteers was put together by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coast Birds (SANCCOB) to transport the birds 1 300km to Cape Town, where they arrived on April 21, 2009.

Jessica Kemper, seabird biologist at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and Venessa Strauss, SANCCOB CEO, decided it would be best if the birds were moved to Cape Town, where there is a rehabilitation centre that can handle up to 2 000 oiled birds. 

The Red Data List categorises these penguins as vulnerable to extinction as they have decreased in numbers from 4-million to 27 000 breeding pairs in 100 years.

The oiled African penguins were rescued last week and transported by truck on a 20-hour journey through the night to Cape Town, where Dr Tertius Gous, SANCCOB’s veterinarian, was waiting for them.

The penguins will be well looked after and released once they have made a full recovery.

According to Strauss, “none of this would be happening if it hadn’t been for Rob Crawford of Marine and Coastal Management and his team, who worked through the night to get the necessary permits in place. We would like to thank him and many other people who have worked with us to find a solution to give these vulnerable penguins a second chance.”

The penguins will most likely swim back home to Namibia once released – though they are always welcome in the Mother City!

To spend some quality time with African penguins, head to the breeding colony at Boulders Beach, where you can also have a safe and enjoyable swim. Take the time to visit the charming naval town of Simon’s Town, which holds great historical value and is just up the road from Boulders Beach

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