Marine Volunteers tackle tough aliens...

August 27, 2013 by dyertrust

Acacia cyclops, or rather Rooikrans as it more widely known is an alien invasive tree that was originally planted by the colonialists to stabilize sand dunes and now it has become one of the most wide spread alien invasive trees in our region. This coastal alien stabilizing our mobile sand dune systems, starving the coastal sections of healthy sand which is necessary for healthy ecosystem functioning.

At the Stony Point Penguin Colony it is also impacting on nesting sites for the endangered African Penguin this species historically nested in burrow dug out of guano, but since the harvesting of mostly all of the guano off of their original breeding islands along the Southern African coast, these birds have taken to surface nesting and at Stony Point, one of only a few land based colonies, the Rooikrans is encroaching on these viable nesting areas.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Volunteers works closely with the onsite colony management team at Stony Point.

On Monday 5th August 2013 the first task team was deployed from Kleinbaai, consisting out of 7 Marine Volunteers and one coordinator. Armed with gloves, hacksaws and bush cutters they started the long and painstaking process of clearing the southern section in the colony. They were closely supervised by Yvonne, the Penguin Monitor at Stony Point and the South Enders a group of penguins breeding alongside this section of the colony grounds.

The group was split in two with Quentin, Nathan, Arthur and Kurt in charge of sawing and Sasha, Rebecca , Robert and Klara in charge of bundling the sawed pieces and carrying the bundles to the selected areas. The bundles were later used to secure and stabilize existing artificial nests the dead alien vegetation provides perfect habitat for the climbing succulent plants that naturally vegetates this area which in turn will provide shade and shelter for the penguins, as well as the other resident species such as Rock Hyraxs.

It was a nice sunny day and this was hard work, but luckily for us, the staff from the Great White House packed us lunch and juices. Whilst sitting on the rocks, watching the waves breaking along the edge of the colony we sighted a Southern Rock Agama, everyone found it very interesting. Quentin, being his curious self, tried to catch it - but failed.

After lunch we went back to sawing, making bundles and sweating. Yvonne also told us about the residents in the area that complained about the African Penguins moving into the properties and how they battled to get the fence re-erected and all of the penguins back into the colony. We all just stared at each other thinking: Do these people know how lucky they are to have such and iconic species on their doorsteps...

It was a great learning experience for the volunteers and they really felt that they were making a difference.

After a long days hard manual labor the whole team headed towards the nearest restaurant, quenching their thirsts everyone so exhausted that very few could remember the trip home....