September 12, 2009 by dyertrust

IKapa Honourary Rangers hand over 200 penguin nests

On 3 March 2009, the iKapa Honourary Rangers handed over 200 artificial penguin nests, specially designed by the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), to the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) in an attempt to boost the Boulders Beach African penguin colony, near Cape Town. This great project was made possible with the generous support of DICT, who sponsored 50 nests, as well as the US-based Species Survival Plan, SANCCOB, and the public.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, penguin colonies were stripped of all their guano, centuries of accumulated bird droppings, which provided a perfect nesting habitat for African penguins. The removal of the guano has consequently had devastating effects on the penguins, forcing them to nest on the surface where they are completely at the mercy of the elements and of predators, resulting in heat stress and predation of eggs and chicks by Kelp Gulls. The artificial nests mimic the conditions of the natural guano burrows, and contribute immensely towards minimizing the penguins exposure to both predators and the elements. DICT has successfully placed several hundred nests on Dyer Island, and has recently expanded the project to include other breeding colonies, in addition to Boulders Beach, where a history of guano scraping has removed penguin breeding habitat, including Stony Point, Bird Island and Robben Island. Many thanks to the TMNP for working with us to help conserve this extraordinary species, which might not be around for much longer if the current rate of decline continues.