— Release Day

SANCCOB Saves Seabirds

Founded in 1968, SANCCOB is a non-profit organization in South Africa whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird population through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds – especially endangered species like the African penguin. Ensemble’s team member, Amy Talebizadeh joins in on an 8-week process of rescuing African penguins by offering aid through an extensive rehabilitation program, then releasing the penguins back to their home. An overall once in a lifetime opportunity.

A World without Penguins

Population Trends (Source SANCCOB):

  • The African penguin is in crisis – they were first classified by the IUCN as Endangered in 2010 and their population continues to decline (BirdLife International 2020)
  • Over the last 30 years (three generations), the number of African penguins breeding in South Africa has declined by 73% from ~42,500 breeding pairs in 1991 to ~10,400 pairs in 2021 (Sherley et al. 2021). This represents a loss of almost a quarter of the remaining penguin population in the space of two years (Sherley et al. 2021).
  • The global population is now estimated at 14,700 pairs in total; ~10,400 pairs in South Africa (based on 2021 breeding census) and ~4,300 pairs in Namibia (based on 2019 breeding census).
  • Based on rates of population decline at the time, it was predicted that the population along the West Coast of South Africa could be functionally extinct by 2035 should no further actions be implemented. (Sherley et al. 2018)

How Can We Save the Penguins?

Encouraging Population Recovery

Working with local authorities and conservation partners to improve food availability is at the top of the list but there’s still much about how we, as the general population have to change in the amount we consume. If there is less of a demand for the products that come from our oceans, it will lead to a cut back on fishing, shipping activities and other various impacts to the global environment.

The following excerpt is from the site, SANCCOB Save the African Penguin:

A thirteen-year project led by the South African government aims to investigate the benefit to breeding African penguins and their chicks by closing areas around islands to fishing. While results are not uniform across colonies, analyses indicate that there is a biologically meaningful benefit to these fishing closures, particularly with respect to chick survival and chick condition (parameters important to the demographic process), as well as maximum foraging distances travelled. However, these results are not supported by some, and the South African government is working extremely hard to resolve this issue and find a way forward through a process led by Minister Creecy, who is the Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs in the South Africa.

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