Swimming start for marine centre
Jenni Marsh HERALD REPORTER
ENDANGERED African penguins in the Eastern Cape are being given another shot at survival, as building work has now begun on a new rehabilitation centre.
The SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre is finally being constructed at Cape Recife, after five years of political wrangling between the metro and a private developer.
Libby Sharwood, trustee of Samrec, said the delays had caused the project to down-scale as building costs had gone up.
Consequently, office space on the site has had to be scrapped for a large intensive care unit.
She said that due to pollution and global warming African penguins, which now total 125000 in South Africa, are in grave danger.
“We have 10 years left to save them,” she said.
Global warming pushed cold currents further out to sea, meaning that penguins were having to swim 60km for food.
By the time they returned to shore the food was digested and had nothing to feed the chicks.
The new centre, on which building work began in September and is scheduled to open in April 2009, will help give these animals a chance to survive.
It will also double as a tourist attraction, giving visitors the chance to see the rehabilitation programmes in action.
A team comprised nearly entirely of volunteers will tend to penguins and baby seals.
In the event of an oil spillage, such as the one at Dom Pedro Wharf this week, the centre could care for up to 2000 penguins.
Algoa Bay is a hot spot for the rare African penguin which is one of the reasons the centre has been chosen for Cape Recife.
Fellow Samrec trustee and ornithologist Dr Norbett Klages said the impending opening of the Port of Ngqura was another large threat.
He said: “The more ships coming into the bay the more risk these ships will come to grief, which will be awful for the animals.”
Story courtesy of The Herald Online News @