The Burgher’s Walk African Penguin Conservation Project is a partnership between SANCCOB, CTEET, SANParks and the City of Cape Town in order to manage the African penguins which are settling out of the Boulders Beach penguin colony. Conservators are appointed to monitor the penguin population and breeding; control public access to the penguins; move the penguins off the roads and out of gardens; and collect injured birds for rehabilitation at the SANCCOB facilities.
All different penguin species around the world moult once a year. Moulting stage is the stage in the life-cycle of penguin when they shed the greyish, old looking feathers that can no longer protect them against the climate and grow fresh, more waterproof feathers to assist the penguin with the cold weather and water. The African penguins which breed at the Boulders Beach colony in the Simon’s Town area moult between October and January.
During this time, most of the adults that have the chicks move away from their nesting area and their chicks to try to conserve their energy since they do not feed for at least 15 – 21 days when moulting.
This year in early October when the moulting started, an large number of chicks were abandoned. They start losing weight, dropping their flippers and becoming frail. This is where the Penguin Monitors come in: they catch the chicks with assistance from SANParks, and transport them to the SANCCOB facility in Table View where the chicks are looked after by professionals until they are able to swim. Then SANCCOB brings them back to the colony to release them on the beach so that they can swim and get food for themselves out in open ocean.
This year, on the 22 November the Penguin Monitors braved the early morning rain and mud caught 63 chicks which were successfully transferred to the rehabilitation centre. Well done to everyone who was involved on a successful chick rescue!
Thank you to Arne Purves for the wonderful photos of the morning.