Friday, October 9, 2015

Cape Town increases penguin protection measures

Johan van der Merwe |
Dogs are to blame for attacks on endangered birds, city says

City increases penguin protection measures in Simon’s Town

Following the recent discovery of another 22 African penguins killed just north of Seaforth Beach near Simon’s Town, the City of Cape Town will be increasing its penguin protection measures in the area between Seaforth Beach and Franks Bay.

Since the beginning of the year, 42 endangered African penguins have been killed as a result of 10 dog-related incidents.

Based on the observed incident patterns, field observations and the necropsy reports from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB)veterinarian, it has been deduced that the most likely predator is one or more dogs.

‘This is a substantial loss to the penguin breeding population in Simon’s Town. The situation cannot be allowed to continue.

‘The City is continually trying to find an appropriate balance between protecting the African penguin, while at the same time not over-regulating human recreation in the area. We therefore again urge members of the public to work with us. We need active participation and responsibility from every person who uses the area.

‘The African penguin is our shared heritage and its survival in an urban environment requires a joint effort.

‘To curb further penguin incidents, two additional full-time penguin monitors will be employed to boost the capacity of the four monitors who are already working in the area. The funding for these additional monitors has been generously provided by Shark Explorers and the Simon’s Town Boat Company. We thank them and laud them for their commitment and support of marine wildlife. They are leading by example in showing that the survival of the African penguin is a shared responsibility,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning,

Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

The penguin monitors will patrol the area from sunrise to sunset on a full-time basis from 1 November 2015  to 31 January 2016.

As of 10 October 2015:
- Burghers’ Walk will be reopened to dogs but leashes are mandatory. The City placed a temporary ban on dogs along this walkway on 21 August 2015. Ongoing non-compliance with this requirement will result in the permanent closure of Burghers’ Walk to all dogs. It is therefore imperative that members of the public take responsibility to ensure compliance with these regulations at all times. Recent nest counts of breeding penguins indicate that of the 982 nests counted, 109 nests are located just along Burghers’ Walk and the areas immediately south of Burghers’ Walk
- Windmill Beach (the sand area only) remains a free-running beach for dogs. However, the onus is on dog owners to ensure that their dogs are under control at all times and that they do not approach or harass penguins. Repeated non-compliance in this regard will result in a recommendation to the Subcouncil to remove Windmill Beach as a free-running dog area. Dog-walkers are to keep their dogs on a leash when arriving to and departing from Windmill Beach. Dog-walkers who are unable to maintain control of their dogs with voice/whistle commands are advised to keep their dogs on a leash at all times
- Camera traps will be installed in the entire area to monitor attacks on penguins (this would include all natural predations and domestic animal attacks)

Penguin monitors deployed to the area have been mandated to ensure that penguins are not harassed, interfered with, or impacted on by recreational users. They will be supported by City Law Enforcement in this regard and members of the public and visitors are advised to heed their requests and instructions.

The African penguin is currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, with a steady decline in numbers over the past decade. The overall population of this species is estimated to be a mere 2,5% of its population level some eight decades ago.

The Department of Environmental Affairs published the Biodiversity Management Plan for the African penguin in October 2013 (Government Gazette No. 36966), in terms of Section 43 (Species Management Plans) of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004).
The City therefore has an obligation to put measures in place to protect penguins on City property, especially during the breeding and nesting seasons.

City Law Enforcement will be enforcing the Animal By-law. Members of the public who observe unaccompanied dogs in the Burghers’ Walk area are urged to report this to City Law Enforcement on 021 596 1999.

Issued by Councillor Johan van der Merwe, Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, City of Cape Town, 9 October 2015


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