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