Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Students 'Free' Penguin from S. African Aquarium

The captive-raised animal may not survive in the wild, aquarium experts say.
Two South African students have confessed to stealing a penguin called "Buddy" from a marine park and releasing him into the Indian Ocean, the park's management said Tuesday.
The endangered African black-footed penguin was taken from Bayworld in Port Elizabeth in the early hours of Wednesday last week, put in a car and taken the short distance to the coast.
The students, who have not been named, confessed to the crime and said it was a demonstration against animals being kept in captivity.
"They are convinced what they did was in the interest of the penguin," Dylan Bailey, manager of the Bayworld Oceanarium, told AFP.
"They thought what they were doing is right.
"We are still discussing the matter with their legal representative. There was no malicious intention, they did not intend harm."

However Bailey warned that three-year-old Buddy who was raised in captivity, faced certain death in the ocean.
"Although Buddy is a healthy penguin and should have enough energy to survive for up to three weeks in the wild, he is a captive raised bird that is now in an unfamiliar environment," Bailey said.
"He simply does not have the experience necessary to survive."
Penguins normally mate for life, and Buddy has been taken away from his partner Francis.
They had two chicks, though one died previously.
Buddy, also known as penguin number 266, was discovered missing the day after the theft when he could not be found for his monthly health check.
Security camera footage showed the two students, both in their 20s, entering the penguin enclosure at night after parking their car outside.
They released Buddy at nearby Pollock Beach.

Bayworld staff and volunteers have been patrolling the coast to search for Buddy, who has an identification tag on his left flipper.
He also has a microchip, but no tracker.
The Bayworld Oceanarium, which holds penguins and seals bred in captivity or injured in the wild, said it would improve security to keep out intruders.
African black-footed penguins, also known as jackass penguins due to their braying noise, have been rated as endangered since 2010 due to a rapid fall in numbers caused by commercial fishing and shortage of prey.
They are native to Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, where they are a famous tourist attraction at Boulders Beach near Cape Town.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Magellanic penguin mating season begins in Argentina


PUERTO TOMBO, Argentina (AP) — Thousands of Magellanic penguins are arriving at Argentina's Punta Tombo peninsula for their breeding season.
More than 200,000 penguin couples are expected to gather during the three-month breeding season that began Sunday.
Some have started to build their nests on the peninsula, which juts into the Atlantic south of Argentina's Chubut Province. The male and female will take turns taking care of the eggs and hunting. Chicks are expected to hatch by November.

Magellanic penguins breed in large colonies in southern Argentina and Chile and migrate north as far as southwestern Brazil between March and September.
They have a broad crescent of white feathers that extends from just above each eye to the chin and a small area of pink flesh on the face.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Three days later - 'Buddy’ the Penguin still missing, please assist

SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Three days later, there is still no new word after beloved Port Elizabeth penguin 'Buddy' was senselessly stolen after a break-in at Bayworld Museum, Oceanarium and Snake Park in Summerstrand. Humewood police are currently investigating a case of theft and on Friday appealed to the public for assistance with leads.

"According to the trainers at the marine park, they noticed on Thursday, 22 September 2016, that the penguin is missing while doing their routine medical check-ups on the animals," described police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu.

"CCTV footage captured two unknown persons on the premises which raises the suspicion that 'Buddy' may have been stolen.

"The penguin is micro-chipped and also tagged (see picture)."

Anyone, who may know where ‘Buddy’ may be kept or can assist in tracing him, is asked to contact SAPS Humewood on 041 5045019 or Bayworld on 041 5840650 or email: trainers@bayworld.co.za.

WATCH: Fishy-looking felons steal penguin from Bayworld

Call in Ace Ventura – two fishy looking felons have broken into Bayworld and stolen an African penguin.

And while it all sounds a little like a scene from The Hangover, Bayworld trainers, and experts say the snatched penguin, Buddy, will be under a lot of stress.

They are appealing to Port Elizabeth residents to keep a sharp lookout for the male penguin, which is the father of two new chicks.

Buddy was taken from his enclosure during the early hours of Wednesday morning, with staff only realising he was gone on Thursday.

Screen shots taken from the complex’s CCTV camera clearly show two men arriving at the complex at 3.13am on Wednesday.

They scaled the wall and proceeded to snap selfies on their cellphones as they meandered around the complex.

At one point one of the men can be seen standing inside one of the penguin enclosures.

Topless, the man appears to bundle little Buddy up in an item of clothing.

The curator for marine mammals and seabirds, Cherie Lawrence, said they had only noticed Buddy was missing on Thursday when they were conducting routine medical check-ups on all 60 birds housed at the complex.

A concerned Lawrence said she believed it would prove quite a feat for a lay person to care for a penguin outside of Bayworld.

“They only eat pilchards, between seven or eight a day and they also have to get their daily dose of vitamins, so it would be difficult, unless the person knows what they are doing, to look after him at home,” she said.

Libby Sharwood, who used to work for the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (Samrec) and who has worked extensively with African penguins for a number of years, said Buddy would be extremely stressed being away from his family.

She also said African penguins were known as one of the most aggressive species of penguins.

“These guys are not very friendly and Buddy, in particular, wasn’t known as the friendliest. Whoever took him must have been extremely brave to put his hands into the enclosure where the parents were protecting their chicks.”

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said a case of theft was being investigated.

“The penguin is micro-chipped and also tagged. Anyone who knows where Buddy may be should contact SAPS Humewood or Bayworld.”


Saturday, September 24, 2016

King penguin chick shows up at Vienna zoo

Thu Sep 22, 2016 

A King penguin chick hatched at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo four weeks ago, has emerged from the folds of a protective parent's body.

The zoo published pictures and video footage on Thursday of the little gray bird with its much larger and more brightly colored parents. King penguins are the second-biggest species of penguin after Emperor penguins.

"It hatched on Aug. 30 but was hidden for a long time in a fold of one of its parents' bellies," the zoo said, referring to the fact that King penguins keep their eggs and young chicks warm by wedging them between their feet and their soft paunch.

Two king penguins and their chick stand in their enclosure in the zoo of Schoenbrunn in Vienna, Austria, September 21, 2016. Picture taken September 21, 2016. Tiergarten Schoenbrunn/Daniel Zupanc/Handout via REUTERS
"In the meantime, the little one has grown so much that there is not enough room on its parent's feet," it added.

As with all King penguins of its age, the chick's gender is not yet clear and will be determined by a genetic testing of its feathers, the zoo said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)


Penguin attraction at Longleat is closed after 'large amount' of birds die in malaria outbreak

A number of the park's Humboldt penguins have passed away due to an outbreak of the avian strain of the disease
A number of the park's Humboldt penguins have passed away due to an outbreak of the avian strain of the disease Credit: Longleat
The penguin attraction at Longleat Safari Park has been closed after a “large amount” of birds died in a "devastating" malaria outbreak.

A number of the park's Humboldt penguins passed away due to an outbreak of the strain of avian malaria, which is spread via mosquitoes.

Our team of keepers is absolutely devastated, said Darren Beasley
Although the number of birds affected has not been confirmed, a statement released by the park said the deaths have led to “problems with the remaining group.”

Darren Beasley, Head of Animal Operations at Longleat, said it was with “great sadness” that he had to make the announcement about the colony, which includes many birds that have been hand-reared.
“Although our penguins are a tough bunch this has subsequently led to problems with the remaining group, leading to a very distressing time for everyone involved in their care,” he said.

“Our team of keepers is absolutely devastated - they have looked after the penguins each and every day, with most of the penguins having been hand-reared by the team since hatching.”
The number of birds affected has not been confirmed
The number of birds affected has not been confirmed Credit: Longleat
Mr. Beasley stressed that the disease does not affect humans. The attraction, which is believed to be home to around 20 penguins, has instead been closed to give the team space to look after the remaining animals, he said, and “to allow the heartbroken keepers time themselves to get through this terrible experience.”

Humboldt penguins are originally from South America and are commonly found in Peru and Chile, where they nest on rocky outcrops at the coast.

Due to their diminishing numbers, Chile and Peru have established refuges for Humboldt penguins. In 1995 a 30-year ban on capturing and hunting them was also enacted.

In August 2012, six penguins died following an outbreak at London Zoo. Dr. Stephen Larcombe, a researcher of animal diseases at the University of Glasgow, said the "ancient" disease was not uncommon and had been recorded in penguin colonies as early as the 1920s.

He told The Telegraph: "Penguins are one of the very few bird families that are susceptible because on an evolutionary timescale they have never been exposed to it.

"It’s only been since people have deliberately started moving them across the world that they have been exposed."


Lost Penguin Wanders into Lima Home, Startles Family (video)

A lost penguin wandered into a house Monday in the Northern Peruvian Town of Chimbote, 186 miles north of Lima. After shuffling through the streets all night, the penguin made its way into Mary Tancheva's kitchen, on the hunt for food. Tancheva said the noise of pots and pans crashing to the floor woke up the family, who thought they were being robbed. When she made her way to the kitchen, she confronted the thief. She and her children were more shock to see that it was a penguin. Local police arrived at the house in the Vista Del Mar neighborhood and took the penguin. The penguin was examined by government officials and taken to the Chimbote Zoo, where he was released into a large man-made lake. Veterinarians examined the penguin and return him to the sea. Scientists believed the penguin wandered from his usual habitat in search of food.

Penguin underpass progressing

21 September 2016
Oamaru blue penguins could be using New Zealand's first penguin underpass within three weeks as crews continue work at the site at Oamaru Harbour. Photo by Hamish MacLean.
Oamaru blue penguins could be using New Zealand's first penguin underpass within three weeks as crews continue work at the site at Oamaru Harbour. Photo by Hamish MacLean.
Oamaru blue penguins could be using New Zealand's first penguin underpass within three weeks as crews continue work at the site at Oamaru Harbour.
The 25m tunnel under Waterfront Rd would accommodate the one or two dozen birds, on average, that used the North Otago Yacht and Power Boat Club boat ramp to come ashore at night, Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony marine biologist Dr Philippa Agnew said.
The penguins were ''very habitual'' and not easily dissuaded from using established nesting sites despite the high level of disturbance at the crossing.
Dr Agnew was confident the birds would use the crossing, as the neighbouring colony's birds had learnt to walk through a hole in a fence where a microchip reader was installed to read the ''grain of rice''-sized implants some of the birds wore in the back of their necks.
Network Waitaki, SouthRoads and Hynds each donated time or materials to the Waitaki District Council and Tourism Waitaki project.


This Week's Pencognito!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

For Chinstrap Penguin Populations, Proactive Steps Are Key

Your vote can help keep this Southern Ocean species plentiful
Chinstrap© The Pew Charitable Trusts
Chinstrap penguins received their name because of the distinctive black markings on their faces.

All eyes were on the Olympics this summer, as countries from across the globe gathered together with a spirit of international cooperation. Now, countries must come together to help protect the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. Global warming and human activities are threatening many of the area’s penguin species—and they need our support more than ever.

To help draw attention and support to their home, six species of penguin, all of which live, feed, and breed in and around Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters, have agreed to participate in a contest to determine the world’s favorite Southern Ocean penguin species—with you as the decider!

Through Sept. 30, you’ll have a chance to meet each candidate so you can make an informed choice. Each of these hopefuls is running on a powerful platform to earn your vote and to help these waters continue to support thriving ecosystems.

Who is running and what are their positions on the issues? We’ll be answering those questions and more as we profile each candidate. We’ll announce the winner Oct. 10.

The polls are now open, so cast your ballot before they close Sept. 30!

Candidate: The chinstrap

Campaign slogan: Krill for all!

Platform promise: “I will make sure the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) stays true to its conservation mandate by enforcing strong krill fishery management measures that avoid overdepletion of krill from coastal areas where we feed and ensuring that krill harvesters share their data and implement 100 percent observer coverage on vessels.”

Signature trait: A black beak and a white face with a distinctive thin black marking along the chin, for which it is named.

Penguin profile: Chinstraps are the second-most abundant penguin species in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic region. There are about 4 million breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins, with most concentrated in the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland, South Orkney, and South Sandwich islands in the Southern Ocean.
Even though these birds are at little risk of extinction with generally strong populations, natural decreases in the abundance of their prey, increased fishing in their foraging area while nesting, and melting and shifting sea ice could have a detrimental impact on colony stability and health.
In fact, 99 percent of the chinstrap’s diet is Antarctic krill. Unfortunately, humans from the north keep coming to the Southern Ocean to fish for krill for supplements and animal feed. As industrial krill fishing increases, particularly off the Antarctic Peninsula, less food may be available in chinstrap penguin foraging areas, and the birds’ populations could decline.
Antarctic tourism, particularly to the peninsula, is also on the rise. More than 37,000 travelers visited the Southern Ocean in the 2013-14 season. Increased human interference could affect colony health as well.
But chinstraps are strong—in more ways than one. They can shed their stomach linings, which could help cleanse them of fluoride ingested when they feed on krill. Steep, rocky slopes don’t intimidate them. These areas are actually the preferred chinstrap nesting place. The birds can also use all four limbs to climb, jump great distances, and propel themselves on their stomachs like a toboggan.

Why the chinstrap deserves your vote: Successful foraging for krill is key to the survival of chinstrap penguins, as is minimizing potential disturbances from humans. The chinstrap population is healthy today—and it needs to stay that way. Implementing protections proactively, before the chinstrap is at risk, can help ensure that their numbers remain robust.
By winning the vote as humankind’s favorite penguin, the chinstrap would continue to remind the world of what is at stake in Antarctica, how human activity is harming this special environment, and why CCAMLR and the world must act now to protect the Southern Ocean.


PS (When you arrive at the site, you can vote for any penguin species listed on the page. Hey, any vote is a GREAT vote!~~~~wiinterrr)

This Week's Pencognito!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Penguin dog deaths alarming

Tuesday 13 Sep, 2016 | 
By Andrew Campbell andrew@thesun.co.nz

A total of 24 little blue penguins have been killed on Western Bay of Plenty beaches over the last year, by dogs, in daylight.

Western Bay Wildlife Trusts volunteer Rosalie Crawford picked up the latest dog attack victim from Papamoa over the weekend.

Taking his last look at the sea. This Little Blue Penguin was attacked in the weekend. Photo: supplied.

The figures are concerning wildlife rescuers who are calling for more stringent policing of dog bans around Mauao, Moturiki/Leisure Island, both of which are penguin rookeries.
“The dogs are coming up to the penguins and biting them, and in over half the cases, the rescue people were on their way and the dogs got to the penguins first,” says Rosalie.
The latest dog attack victim was picked up from the home of the couple who rescued it from the beach.
“When I arrived it was standing in the window in the sun,” says Rosalie.
She wrapped it in towel, put it in a box and took it to the vet – who put the penguin down. It had been blinded on one eye by a dog bite and was unable to hunt for itself. The tooth had gone down through its skull down into the right eye.
“It was still swimming trying to survive, but was unable to hunt well. Its chest quite thin. Because it had no food going it wasn't able to create enough warmth,” says Rosalie.
“Penguins have an oil on their body that keeps them waterproof. It also keeps them warm.”
Penguins normally come ashore at night. If they come ashore during the day it means they are sick, says Rosalie.
“If they are getting out of the sea during the day they are sick penguins because they are too cold. People see them, dogs go after them.”
She advises people to call 0800 SICK PENGUIN and a volunteer will collect the bird.
The Western Bay Wildlife Trust is holding penguin aversion dog training on Saturday at Mount Maunganui on the beach opposite the Banks Avenue access from 1.30-4pm, and Sunday at Papamoa on the beach opposite Parton Road from 11am-2pm.

To register phone 021 0776851, or 0800 742573. Email penguinplus@gmail.com


Protect penguins from dogs as part of Conservation Week

Allison Hess
Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times
Dogs pose a real danger to penguins on Tauranga beaches but there may be a unique solution.
Penguin Aversion Dog Training has arrived in Tauranga as part of Conservation Week, which kicked off on Saturday, with activities for people to learn more about taking care of the beautiful Bay of Plenty.
Even the most friendly of dogs can attack and kill penguins on the beach, Western Bay Wildlife Trust chairwoman Julia Graham said.
"Many penguins come to shore, just needing a place to park up and rest or moult for a few hours. Then along comes a dog and you're dealing with massive injuries and a dead penguin," she said.
It can be any kind of dog Ms Graham said, describing an incident where a friendly little lapdog on a lead poked its head under a rock.

"There was a penguin under the rock, which attacked the dog's face and the dog defended himself. Not only did the penguin get killed but the dog had a severe eye injury too."
She said penguins could be aggressive and if a dog approached, could get scared and lash our with their beak.
To avoid dead penguins and hurt dogs, she said the Penguin Aversion Dog Training was a valuable tool.
"We all love taking out dogs to the beach, but the reality is even on a lead you may not realise there is a penguin behind that log. If we are going to cohabit with these creatures we need this training."
"The dog will get to know what penguins smell like and be trained to avoid them," Ms Graham said.
She said it would not take dogs long and invited all dog owners to bring their dogs down on the day.
It was the first time the training has come to Tauranga after being trialled in Wellington's East coast where it enjoyed success.
For non-dog owners there was still plenty to do for Conservation Week in Tauranga.
Night wildlife tours around Mauao, forest walks in Te Puke, Katikati and kid-friendly events would help "make people realise that in their backyard is one of the most amazing places in the world."

Conservation Week

Penguin Aversion Dog Training
Where: Papamoa Beach Domain, Papamoa Beach Road, Tauranga
When: Sun Sep 18 2016, 11am-2pm
Where: Mt Maunganui Beach, Marine Parade, Mt Maunganui
When: Saturday September 17 2016 1.30pm - 4pm
FreeWestern Bay Wildlife Trust Night Tours
Where: Mauao Base Track, 21 Adams Ave, Mount Maunganui, Mt Maunganui
When: Tue Sep 13 2016, 8.30pm
Thu Sep 15 2016, 8.30pm
Fri Sep 16 2016, 8.30pm
Sat Sep 17 2016, 8.30pm
Adults - $20
Children - $10
Family - $50
Bookings required, call 021 0776851 or 0800 742573
Nukuhou Saltmarsh Walk
Where: Te Puke Carpark Boucher Avenue, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty
When: Sunday September18 2016 8.45am - 3pm
Gold coin, bookings required, call Margaret McGarva 075421934 or 027 241 7625
Athenree Working Bee
Where: DOC Office, 253 Chadwick Rd, Waihi Beach
When: Wednesday September 14 2016 10am - 1pm
Bring gumboots, gloves, weather appropriate clothing. Open to everyone.

- Bay of Plenty Times

‘Disappointed’ firm speaks out about claims of endangerment of Sydney’s penguin colony at Manly

Fairy Penguins, and chick at North Head. Picture: Braden Fastier.
Fairy Penguins, and chick at North Head. Picture: Braden Fastier.
A HOTEL firm accused of endangering North Head’s protected little penguins said the claims were untrue, as environment bosses confirmed the creatures had not been harmed.
Mawland Group, which runs the Q Station restaurant and Hotel at the former quarantine station at North Head, was criticised for reportedly clearing foliage in the habitat, the only mainland breeding colony in Australia. The allegations were made by the State Opposition.
Q station buildings in Sydney Harbour National Park, North Head.
Labor environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said, it’s “still in dispute whether there were penguins there at the time.”
Mawland Group director Suzanne Stanton said it did clear some land – but it was not in what the company ­believed to be the protected space.
The company had now worked with the national park to revegetate it.
Boilerhouse Harbourside Restaurant at Q station in Sydney Harbour National Park, North Head has answered the claims.
“We are so disappointed about these claims,” Mrs Stanton said.
“We say it is untrue. We care deeply about the penguins.
“There was some clipping of noxious weeds but it certainly was not within what we understood was critical habitat.”
However, Mrs Sharpe , claims it was within the habitat.
The view from a balcony at the Q Station.
An Office of Environment Heritage spokesman confirmed the penguins were not affected.
“OEH found the clearing of mostly weeds did not ­affect the little penguins in the vicinity of area at the time of the clearing,” he said.
“OEH has instructed the lessee not to undertake any work or maintenance of any kind in the area or surrounds without written permission.”
A screen shot of the fox that killed 26 little penguins at North Head Pic credit: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Little creatures
The little penguins’ breeding season runs from June to February
In 1990 there were just 35 little penguins nesting in the national park at North Head, which is the only mainland colony in NSW
Since then, the number had increased to around 140 birds
Last year a fox stalked and killed 27 penguins.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

This Week's Pencognito!

North Head penguin colony accidentally cleared by restaurant

A colony of endangered Little Penguins, the last on the NSW mainland, have had parts of their critical nesting grounds allegedly cleared during building works at a restaurant, the state opposition claims.

The breach is alleged to have taken place despite repeated recent efforts to save the penguins at a cost from wild fox attacks at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, including a network of cameras and snipers.
Little penguins at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary in Manly.
Little penguins at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary in Manly. Photo: Janie Barrett
Labor alleged that vegetation covering 60 metres of "critical habitat zone" in a NSW national park at North Head was denuded after the Boilerhouse restaurant strayed over the boundaries of its licence during land clearing late last year.

The environment department confirmed last week that a special investigations team by the state's national parks service had not found enough evidence to bring any action against the restaurant.
"They have determined that there was a lack of clear evidence to pursue the matters through the courts," said the CEO of the Department of the Environment, Terry Bailey.

The department later confirmed it had replanted areas behind the restaurant "to protect the Little penguins" and said future works on the site would require written permission.

Labor is accusing the government of inaction.

"It beggars belief that critical habitat for our only mainland penguin colony could be cleared and no action taken by [the state government] against the those who were responsible," said Labor's environment spokeswoman, Penny Sharpe. "The minister needs to … ensure that commercial lessees in National Parks are not violating their licence conditions. Our endangered wildlife depends on it."
The incident happened last December. Ms Sharpe is questioning whether the work would have crushed any penguin eggs.

But the department said on Friday its investigation found penguins in the vicinity were not affected and says the area was mostly covered in weeds.

Fairfax contacted a director of Mawland Group, the restaurant's owner, for comment on Saturday.  A restaurant manager said he was unaware of the incident.

The state government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on special operations to protect the penguins in recent years, including sending in snipers, penguin coroners and DNA test after wild foxes killed tens of penguins in sprees over several years.

"[We have] worked with the lessee to re-plant the area with native plants to protect the Little Penguins," a spokesman for the environment department said.

Environment Minister Mark Speakman said he was "disappointed" by the incident and had asked the department to be "extra vigilant".

There are about 150 penguins on the colony. It started with 35 in 1990.

The private operator which owns the restaurant, Mawland, was handed control of the quarantine station in a controversial leasing decision more than a decade ago and has prompted repeated warnings from locals about the coexistence of the restaurant and the conservation colony.

Mawland has applied for a raft of variations to its planning controls, including playing music in an outdoor area metres away from penguin nests, boosting visitor numbers and carrying out environmental audits less frequently.


Friday, September 9, 2016

92 Penguins Covered In Oil Get Special Baths That Save Their Lives

By Sarah V Schweig
At the end of August, the last of 92 penguins who had been covered in oil was finally clean, thanks to the people who worked day and night to give them baths.

Facebook/SANCCOBBut they still have a long road to recovery ahead of them.


"Unfortunately, the journey isn't over for these poor seabirds," the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), a seabird rescue center in Cape St. Francis, South Africa, wrote. "Many of them are still suffering the effects of dehydration, malnourishment and need to regain the natural waterproofing of their feathers before they can be released back into the wild. Our team will now begin the next stage of oil spill response management — rehabilitating the oil-free seabirds."


The 92 oiled penguins started arriving on August 16, after an oil spill off the coast of South Africa. The authorities are still investigating the source of the spill.


"Most of the penguins are heavily oiled, with some having as much as 90% of their bodies covered in oil," SANCCOB wrote in a press release about its new patients.


Oil breaks down the natural waterproofing of a penguin's feathers, the rescue organization said, and makes it impossible for the penguin to regulate his body temperature, which can lead to hypothermia.


"Oil also causes skin and eye irritation," SANCCOB wrote. "A natural reaction for penguins is to preen their feathers to remove the oil which can result in ingestion of oil, ultimately leading to ulcers, a reduced immune system and organ failure."


While the birds admitted to the center were dehydrated, stressed and weak at first, they're already looking a lot better after their baths — which can take two hours each.
"We are grateful for all the support from our partners and the local community," Juanita Raath, SANCCOB's rehabilitation coordinator, said in the release. "The team of staff and volunteers are working round the clock to ensure that the birds get the best care possible."

You can "adopt" a wild penguin recovering at SANCCOB here.


Feral cats are a threat to Port Taranaki's little blue penguin population

Little blue penguins are in danger of feral cat attacks.
Little blue penguins are in danger of feral cat attacks.

Little blue penguins are quivering with fear as feral cats invade their cosy homes.
David Chadfield of Chaddy's Charters said he's found dead penguins and piles of feathers as families of feral cats close in on Port Taranaki's 20 nesting boxes.
"I've found heaps of penguin bodies throughout the years. Just absolutely destroyed," he said.
"I hear them at night and in the morning, there's a massive amount of feathers everywhere."

Despite the port's efforts to reduce the feral cat population, Chadfield said it was a persistent issue that was worsening.
"I've seen cars tipping out bags of kittens in the area," he said.
"It happens all around the port.

"These people think it's not a real problem to do it, but it becomes a real problem for us."
Chadfield, who is well known as Chaddy, said he was concerned the feral cats would kill the entire population of little blue penguins.
"Cats are predators. Penguins are pretty good at defending themselves, but the cats will win in the end I'd say."

Chaddy isn't the only port person to spot the felines.
Port environmental manager Bridget Harrison said it has been a ongoing issue.
"We take our responsibility to control vermin seriously, to keep our penguin population safe," she said.
"The penguins are nesting at the moment, so it is a crucial period."

Though the port has a programme to catch cats, Harrison said they planned to increase the number of traps.
The traps, which are wire cages with a piece of meat in the back, attract the cats and an automatic door shuts behind them.

The cats are then taken to either the SPCA or the Department of Conservation (DOC), where they are scanned for microchip IDs.
Microchipped cats are returned to the rightful owner, while non-microchipped cats are euthanised.

The growing concern for the penguin population would see traps installed on Ocean View Parade and Breakwater Bay.
Though the port's increased efforts would be a one-off operation, Harrison said it would be repeated if the community felt feral cats were a continuous threat to the little blue birds.


African penguin vanishing from coast

BOBBY JORDAN | 06 September, 2016

A pair of African penguins at Boulders Beach in Cape Town
Image by: Supplied

One of South Africa's best-loved birds - the African penguin - is fast disappearing from our coastlines.

This is possibly due to climate change and commercial fishing, according to a presentation yesterday at the International Penguin Congress, in Cape Town.
The fate of the African penguin is a barometer of the state of the oceans, and the latest evidence suggests there is cause for serious concern. "They are dying," UK scientist Richard Sherley told the congress yesterday.

"Adult survival has dropped from around 85% to, at its worst, 45%."
The number of breeding pairs on Robben Island had dropped to only 1000, from more than 8000 a decade ago. A similar decline had been recorded at the Boulders Beach penguin colony, a popular tourist attraction.
South Africa is home to 80% of all African penguins so the situation is particularly grave, Sherley said.

The decline has coincided with a shift in the distribution of sardines, a favourite penguin food, he said. The eastward shift in the sardine population appeared to be linked to factors such as over-fishing and a half-degree change in sea-surface temperature.
"We know that food is a big problem [for the penguins]," Sherley said. "Movement of fish populations is a difficulty for penguins because they don't like to move from their breeding sites. Now they have to travel a lot further."

The decline of African penguin numbers is symptomatic of a bigger threat to the world's sea birds, said Lauren Waller, of Cape Nature.
"The penguin has a much smaller range than flying sea birds and so gives early warning of what is happening in the wider ecological context."
Scientists have suggested establishing new colonies closer to the sardines.
"We need to do something but are running out of time," Sherley said.


Oamaru to build first underpass in country for little blue penguins

Little blue penguins like these will avoid the risks of crossing Waterfront Rd at Oamaru's harbour after an underpass is ...
Little blue penguins like these will avoid the risks of crossing Waterfront Rd at Oamaru's harbour after an underpass is built for them.
Oamaru Harbour will soon have New Zealand's first penguin underpass to keep the little sea birds away from the flashing lights of the paparazzi.
The private access way for the little blue penguins on Waterfront Rd comes after increased activity at the harbour, with tourists taking photos with flash disturbing the birds, Blue Penguin Colony research scientist Dr Philippa Agnew said.

The little blue penguins lived in an urban environment and several issues arose with their commute between their nests and the sea.
"The installation of this little penguin underpass in Oamaru is a New Zealand first," Agnew said.
"At the boat ramp each evening during summer, the penguins face crowds of people trying to get close to them and also traffic trying to use the same road - an unfortunate reality of urban living."
Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said the project was a proactive measure in the interest of wildlife protection.

"The idea is we would like to separate the people from the penguins," Gaskill said.
It would not be difficult for penguins to get used to the tunnel. To the best of his knowledge there had been no incidents of penguins crossing the road, he said.
Waitaki District Council roading manager Michael Voss said construction on the underpass would begin on Monday, with several organisations collaborating in a "perfect storm".

"Basically we are excavating into the road a culvert, the pipe being supplied by Hynds."
Penguins would use the pipe to travel across the road safely, he said.
Construction on the road would go through a generator owned by Network Waitaki, but Network Waitaki had indicated they would relocate the generator at their own expense.
Voss said weather permitting, construction would be completed within a week.


Three penguin species no longer endangered

Wednesday 7 September 2016
Vanessa Poonah
There are only 25 000 breeding pairs of African penguins left in the world. (REUTERS)

Three penguin species worldwide have been downgraded from the critically endangered list due to their increasing numbers. This is according to the updated International Red List of Threatened Species that was released on Wednesday.

Scientists and conservationists from around the world are gathering at the ninth International Penguin Congress in Cape Town to create an action plan to protect the world's 18 penguin species.

The Gentoo from the Falkland Islands, characterised by a wide white stripe on its head and its bright orange-red bill, is one of the three species which have shown an increase in population numbers.

The species has since been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable. “There are three species, the Gentoo, the Adelie and the Royal that have actually been downgraded because their population numbers have started to come back up a little bit. That doesn’t mean that we can take our eye off the ball, we need to continue to be vigilant and we need to continue to implement wide-ranging and inter-disciplinary solutions to address the problems," says Susie Ellis from the Penguin Conservation Society.

However, the African Penguin, endemic to South Africa, remains highly endangered.

Population numbers have dwindled by half over the last decade and there are only 25 000 breeding pairs left in the world.

Climate change and food shortages are threatening the existence of penguin populations.

The decline is a major concern. “Penguins are ocean sentinels. They tell us what is really happening in the world. Unfortunately, most of us do not know what is happening to penguins. Over 55 % of the penguin species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, meaning that they are in danger of going into extinction. At the top of the list is the African Penguin because its population has plummeted faster than any other species of penguin in the globe," explains Co-Chair of the IUCN Penguin Specialist Group, Dee Boersma.

Experts say the enactment of laws around fisheries and the establishment of marine protected areas are critical in encouraging penguin populations to grow.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Rehabilitation of oiled penguins progressing well

According to SANCCOB, the African Penguins had to go through extensive cleaning which is only a small part of the rehabilitation process which was still far from finished.

CAPE TOWN -­ Almost 100 oiled African penguins that were admitted to the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) following an oil spill in the Eastern Cape, have been successfully washed, the organisation said on Friday.

SANCCOB said the oiled penguins, along with 61 penguin chicks, were rescued from St Croix Island in a collaborative rescue operation by the Marine Rangers from the Addo Elephant National Park, South African National Parks (SANParks), the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and SANCCOB and transported to SANCCOB’s seabird centre in Cape St Francis and to the South African Marine Rehabilitation Centre (SAMREC) in Port Elizabeth.

The birds were collected after an oil spill in Algoa Bay.

SANCCOB’s rehabilitation coordinator in the Eastern Cape, Juanita Raath, said: “We are happy with the progress made so far and that all the birds are now clean.”

The staff and volunteers at SANCCOB washed the first penguins on 21 August and the last ones on Thursday, 25 August.

According to SANCCOB, the African Penguins had to go through extensive cleaning which is only a small part of the rehabilitation process which was still far from finished.

“we still need to make sure that each bird regains its natural waterproofing, picks up sufficient weight, regain its hydration and passes all our medical and veterinary checks, before being able to go back into the wild.”

The penguin chicks, due to needing to grow into juveniles first before being able to be released into the wild, would stay on longer until they were fit and ready.

The exact cause of the oil spill has not yet been determined and was under investigation by the relevant authorities.

According to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs: Oceans and Coasts, “in the early 20th century the total wild population was estimated at one million breeding pairs; today the total estimate is less than 25,000 breeding pairs left in South Africa and Namibia, with only 19,284 breeding pairs recorded in South Africa in 2015”.

Due to the fast decline these species that breeds in 29 locations in South Africa and Southern Namibia, they have been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2010.

Africa News Agency


Sniffer dog called into find Eastbourne's dwindling penguin population

Sally Bain is part of a group bringing a sniffer dog to Eastbourne to help find out how many penguins are nesting in the ...
Sally Bain is part of a group bringing a sniffer dog to Eastbourne to help find out how many penguins are nesting in the eastern bays. Her dog, Bell, is trained to leave penguins alone.
Eastbourne's under-threat penguins are about to get help from an unlikely source – a detector dog called Mena.
A group fighting to save the declining population of little blue penguins will use Mena to try and establish how many penguins there are between Seaview and Burdans Gate.
Mena belongs to Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute member Alastair Judkins, and has been approved by the Department of Conservation to work with penguins.

Alastair Judkins with his penguin detector dog, Mena.
Alastair Judkins with his penguin detector dog, Mena.

Eastern Bays Penguins spokeswoman Sally Bain is reluctant to guess at how many penguins are left but believes numbers have declined by as much as 60 per cent in recent years.
As well as the loss of habitat, nesting penguins fall victim to dog attacks, stoats, ferrets and hedgehogs, as well as being hit by cars.
Penguins are most active at dawn and dusk, which creates extra problems for drivers.
The road around the bays has cut the penguins off from their nesting areas. Over the years, many have adapted by setting up home under houses each spring.

As the road has got busier, however, penguins deaths have increased.
A dead bird with two broken feet was found recently. The lack of puncture wounds suggested it was probably hit by a car, Bain said.
Other hazards include hedgehogs and stoats raiding nests, and pet dogs killing the birds. Bain has run penguin aversion training sessions for dogs but has found it hard to get owners to take responsibility for their pets.

Bringing in the sniffer dog will help gauge now big the penguin population is and where it is based, making it easier for people like Bain to protect the birds.
Worryingly, the Days Bay penguins are a couple of weeks late in arriving this spring. Pairs would normally be nesting by now, and Bain hopes there is an innocent explanation, such as the weather, or a shortage of food.

There are 400 breeding pairs on Matui/Somes Island, but Bain has no idea how many there are in Wellington Harbour.
Other colonies are in Seatoun, Moa Pt and Ngauranga.


This Week's Pencognito!