SANCCOB strengthening efforts to maintain African penguin

20 Oct 2018 15:20pm
SWAKOPMUND, 20 OCT (NAMPA) – In order to maintain the African penguin population, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) sourced funding for specialised oiled wildlife response equipment.
SANCCOB is currently working with the American Zoo Association, which runs a programme called Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) that has the Disaster Relief Project for African penguins, whose objective is essentially to improve preparedness and response for the African penguins.
The African penguin, which breeds only in Namibia and South Africa, was shifted from vulnerable to endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2010 and is now facing extinction if substantial attention is not given to it.
SANCCOB research manager, Dr Katta Ludynia noted that the African penguin population decreased from millions in the 1970s to the current 21 500 in both Namibia and South Africa, with Namibia’s population at only 5 500 and 16 000 in South Africa.
She said this figure is about 3 per cent of the original population, identifying pollution as one of the most relevant issues to the countries’ seawaters.
“Although Namibia’s African penguin population is low, it has been stable for a couple of years, whereas South Africa’s population keeps decreasing every year,” she said.
The threats to the livelihood and existence of the penguins were discussed during a meeting between the National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan and SANCCOB, together with the American Zoo Association, here on Friday.
“Other reasons to the decrease of the birds are the increasing harvesting of pilchards, the staple food for the penguins, which then brings a shortage of food for the birds to survive as well as predators,” Ludynia added.
The group also discussed that even though oil pollution is the main cause of the birds’ extinction, there are rehabilitation centres in Swakopmund and Lüderitz where birds that suffer during oil spillages can be rehabilitated.
The African penguin can be found off the coast of Lüderitz in Namibia.