September 23, 2009 by dyertrust

DICTwill be at the Whale Festival 24-27 September in Hermanus, at the Enviro Expo marquee on the lawn in front of the Village Square Waterfront Piazza.

Fascinating talks on the Marine Big 5 will be held on the Saturday and Sunday

Toreadmore& see the scheduled programme go to.

Gansbaai,Western Cape,South Africa
15th-18thApril 2009

The 2ndInternational African Penguin Conference, organized by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, took place from the15-18thApril 2009inGansbaai,Western Cape,South Africa.The conference brought together 80 delegates, both local and international, including conservation managers, research scientists, conservationists and seabird rehabilitation experts. Participating organizations included: Cape Nature, South African National Parks,OverstrandMunicipality,RobbenIslandMuseum,UniversityofCape Town, Marine and Coastal Management (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism), University of Bristol (UK), SANCCOB, BirdLife SouthAfrica, Penguins Eastern Cape, SAMREC, Two Oceans Aquarium, Bayworld, the US SPP Program, and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.The conference focused on the continued decline of the African penguin population and aimed to consolidate the links and strategies needed to address this dramatic decline.
This report provides a brief summary of some of the highlights of the Conference.Scientific proceedings, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, will be published later this year.To register for a

(Kemperet al2007).

Professor Crawford informed the conference: The number of African Penguins continues to decrease at an alarming rate.In 2008 just 28,000 pairs were recorded breeding and it is likely that food scarcity is adversely influencing both recruitment (chicks that survive to become breeding adults) and survival.

Anchovies and sardines are the main part of the penguins diet and studies inNamibiaand theCapeshow that the reduction or movement of these shoals coincide with falls in the numbers of breeding penguins.These fish have moved eastward (possibly due to changes in sea temperatures).As a result, the breeding colonies of African Penguins onRobbenIslandandDassenIslandhave declined and the lifespan of breeding adults has decreased.
Professor Crawford said more research into this relationship between fish stocks and penguin survival is needed urgently.This would allow scientists to advise on the size of allowable catches and the exclusion zones of purse seine fishing near to breeding colonies.
(Fairweatheret al2006)
The survival of adult penguins is also causing concern according to speakers at the conference.William Robinson of theUniversityofCape Townshowed that adult survival on Robben andDassenIslandshas fallen by more than 40% since 2000.
African Penguin on edge of being endangered species
Professor Crawford andProfessorLesUnderhill(of the University of Cape Town), said that the African Penguin could become classified as an Endangered species in the coming years if the current population decline remains unchecked.They said that up to 2006 the annual decrease was about 1.4%.In the last two years the decline has become more rapid as is now about 2.4%.
ProfessorUnderhillsaid: This translates to 21.1% decrease per 10 year generation since 1978 and a 50.9% decrease over three generations.As a result, this is pushing the African Penguin into the Endangered category.Currently, the InternationalUnionfor Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classify the African Penguin as a “Vulnerable species, i.e. a population that is judged to be declining between 20-50%.
How can the decline be halted?
Delegates to the conference called for increased funding for research to reverse the decline in numbers of African Penguins before they reach the tipping point where it becomes impossible to save a viable population.
Work being conducted on the island colonies of Dassen, Robben, Dyer, Bird and St Croix all points to the need to understand the relationship between survival and the availability of food, notably sardines and anchovies.The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is actively supporting this work as well as rescue programmes for abandoned chicks and oiled birds.
Predation of eggs and chicks, by gulls and other birds, remains a major issue.The Trusts innovative scheme of providing artificial nests was discussed during the conference.
These data show that:

  • Nest occupancy is high with at least half of the nests being occupied at any given time in the breeding season
  • More than two-thirds of adults occupying the nests fledged at least one chick onRobbenIsland
  • More chicks survived in an artificial nest than in open nests in theMandelaBaycolonies in theEastern Cape
To date, more than1350 nests have been installed in6 breeding colonies along the Western and EasternCapeCoast.The Trusts goal is to raise funds for a further 1500 nests in 2009. To sponsor a nest simply
The keynote speaker at the conference Professor Peter Barham, Professor of Physics at the University of Bristol, UK is an internationally recognised authority on the penguin species of the world and a tireless campaigner for their protection