CapeNature and the management authority for Dyer Island and the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary (APSS), have removed 32 African penguin chicks from Dyer Island and admitted them to the APSS for care.

According to Deon Geldenhuys, Conservation Manager from CapeNature, the chicks were removed after being abandoned by their parents.

Geldenhuys said the penguin life cycle was divided into two phases: breeding and moulting. The moulting phase begins shortly after the breeding season and the chicks are normally fledged before the onset of moulting. If the timing of these two phases overlap, the adult penguins could perish from starvation; therefore, penguin parents sometimes must abandon their chicks before they are fully fledged. “If not for the efforts of the chick bolstering project, these abandoned chicks would starve to death.” 

Xolani Lawo, Senior Bird Rehabilitator at the APSS explained that the chicks would receive special care and would be released back on Dyer Island once they had reached the required weight and had a clean bill of health.

African penguin colonies are declining at an alarming rate – the present population is only 2.5% of its level 80 years ago. Around 141 000 breeding pairs of African penguins were counted in 1956, but last year the total had plummeted to only 19 000 pairs – a loss of nearly 90% in half a century. “We are therefore at a point where every bird that we can save, counts,” said Lawo.

Lawo added that the public could donate to the Fishy Fund to help feed the penguins or buy a booster block to assist with the rebuilding of the African penguin population. To make a donation or for more information, click here.