Pioneer African penguins prepare to establish colony in De Hoop nature reserve
The African penguin is endemic to the coasts of southern Africa, from Hollams Bird Island, near the central coast of Namibia, to Algoa Bay off the coast of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
They are normally found in large, noisy colonies. The African penguin is also commonly referred to as the Jackass penguin due to its loud, grinding cry that resembles that of a donkey.
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the South African National Institute of Biodiversity reported that the species has experienced a rapid population decline over the past hundred years due to hunting, habitat destruction at nesting sites, oil spills, and competition for resources food with commercial fishing fleets.
It is now classified as endangered by the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is listed in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), which means that it is not yet threatened with extinction but that it is without adequate protection. In South Africa, it is further listed as a protected species under the National Environment Management: Biodiversity Act.
Conservation authorities attempted to establish a colony in 2003, but it was abandoned due to severe predation by caracals in the reserve. CapNature, in partnership with BirdLife South Africa built a predator-proof fence around the area where the penguins are.
To further encourage the penguins to stay and breed in the area, realistic penguin decoys equipped with speakers have been placed along the shore. These decoys will play breeding sounds that would make it look like there are penguins mating and breeding there. Brilliant.
“Although we still have years of hard work left, this is a big step to take now, because every year we wait, we lose more and more penguins,” says Christina Hagen, Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation at BirdLife South Africa. Pioneer penguins hatched from abandoned eggs found in other colonies and hand-raised by staff and volunteers of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.
The release of the 30 African penguins from De Hoop Nature Reserve comes a day before the release of Netflix’s “Penguin Town,” which explores the special lives of a group of African penguins who visit Simon’s Town once a year to breed.
The docuseries follow a group of waterfowl in tuxedos around town causing traffic jams and nesting in very human spaces. It promises to be as exciting as it sounds!