Cathy Withers-Clarke | Penguins On The Beach
Sunset on False BaySunset on False BaySunset on False Bay

Penguins On The Beach

October 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

With the Sanccob Penguin Festival coming up on Saturday,

today we're looking at the African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach on False Bay.

Yes, our Penguins live on the beach !

These funny little birds are expert athletes in the water, but on land their ungainly waddle makes them very comical and a favourite with visitors of all ages.

African Penguins are monogomous colonial breeders and always return to the same site if possible, with peak nesting in South Africa usually between March and May. They will usually have two eggs and the adults take it in turns to incubate them for the forty days until they hatch. Once hatched, the chicks are guarded by the parents for about a month, after which they will be left in a crèche with other youngsters while the adults go fishing. 

At between two and four months old the chicks will develop their juvenile plumage and leave their parents. Lifespan in the wild is between 10 and 27 years.

Sadly, Spheniscus demersus are now listed on the IUCN Red List as endangered as they are experiencing a very rapid decline in population, and there are now probably only 10% of the numbers that there were at the beginning of the 20th century. Over-collection of eggs for food and disturbance caused by collection of guano for fertiliser was the initial cause of the population fall, but today over-fishing and oil pollution are the chief threats. There are also incidents of Penguins being killed by dogs or Leopards, and they are prone to being hit by cars as well in the areas where they choose to nest near roads. The IUCN Red List estimates that the number of mature individuals at 2009 was 52,000, with an estimated decline in population of 61% in the 28 years (3 generations) up to then.

One of the attractions of the Penguin Festival on Saturday will be the release of some rehabilitated youngsters by Sanccob to the colony. 

Sanccob is a registered NPO that works to attempt to reverse the decline of seabird populations, and they provide a 24 hour rescue, care and rehabilitation service for all kinds of problems from injuries to oil spills. They rely entirely on their sponsors and donations and among other things have a wonderful Penguin Adoption scheme, which my friends and family know well because animal adoptions are my preferred gifts for them !

So please, next time you are casting about for ideas for a present ~ be it a birthday, wedding, valentine, christmas or anniversary ~ consider adopting a Penguin.

You get a great adoption pack, and can even choose your own name for it !

Who could resist that face...

Without immediate conservation action the African Penguin will be gone in our lifetime.

Possibly even within the next 15 years.

We can help reverse that.


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