Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Boulder Beach Penguins Get New Houses

Boulders penguins have new beach houses
4 March 2009, 06:32

By Caryn Dolley

With the sound of waves lapping against the shore in the background, some stretch languidly, luxuriating in their new beachfront apartments, and peek into the harsh sunlight, while others fuss about indoors.

It is clear they have made themselves at home.

But these are no holidaymakers enjoying a stay at the beach: these are the African penguins at Boulders Beach, which have been provided with 200 nest boxes to protect them from predators.

On Tuesday, iKapa Honourary Rangers, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and the US-based Species Survival Plan project handed to Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) the fibreglass boxes sponsored by individuals and schools at R200 each.

The nest boxes mimic the shape of a natural nest and are big enough for an adult penguin and two chicks.

TMNP section ranger Monique Ruthenberg said the boxes were necessary to boost the Boulders Beach penguin colony.

She said four years ago there had been about 3 900 penguins in the colony, but this figure had dropped to 2 700 by 2007.

"We looked at what we could do to improve the nesting successes and looked at what was done at other (penguin) colonies.

The nest boxes can protect the penguins against predators... each penguin family can raise chicks safely," Ruthenberg said.

She said indigenous vegetation would also be planted around the nest boxes to provide the penguins with shade.

Some of the nest boxes were already occupied by penguins. Two eggs could be seen in two of the boxes.

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Birds released three rehabilitated penguins back into the wild at Boulders Beach, one whose flippers a seal had bitten off..

At first, the three huddled alone, but they soon joined the rest of the penguins.

Image courtesy of Flickr & story courtesy of the Cape Times @

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