Care about gannets - conservationist

2012-10-16 14:06
It is important to care about vulnerable species in order to afford them protection before they are wiped out, a conservationist has said. (CapeNature)

It is important to care about vulnerable species in order to afford them protection before they are wiped out, a conservationist has said. (CapeNature)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - It is important to care about vulnerable species in order to afford them protection before they are wiped out, a conservationist has said.

CapeNature is celebrating 100 years of gannets on Bird Island off Lamberts Bay on the West Coast, and nature conservator Yves Chesselet said that the public should make an effort to care about the birds.

"We should care because it's the only place where you can actually walk to an island over the breakwater to view them [the gannets]," Chesselet told News24.

"They're so photogenic, they're full of body language, they're extremely expressive; they live so tightly together... they're a completely unique species of bird," he added.

Cape Nature has chosen October to celebrate 100 years of the birds on the island, one of only one of only six breeding colonies of this vulnerable seabird in the world.


Records as far back as 1912 indicate that gannets occupied the island when guano scraping was a profitable exercise, with a value of almost R1.5m per year for the government.

"The birds were probably given special protection by the guano managers who must have appreciated their importance as guano producers," said Dr Tony Williams, a retired CapeNature scientist, who used the manager's reports to confirm the date when the first pair of gannets arrived on the island.

The gannets remain vulnerable and in 2002, almost 400 birds died as a result of a Pasteurellosis (avian cholera) epidemic.

Seals also killed several gannets during the 2005 breeding season and caused the entire population of around 17 000 birds to desert the island.

"We had the problem in the past of losing the gannet colony: In 2005, we lost the gannet colony and there were no gannets on the island for six months," said Chesselet.

CapeNature has spent about R5m over 10 years on promoting tourism on the island which became more important for the community after fish stocks began to decline.

Chesselet has been working in conservation since 1988 and urged communities to participate in efforts to protect the natural environment, particularly after the 2005 event.

"That's when suddenly, everybody gets a wake-up call and realises: 'Gee, we've got this gem; this tourist attraction that brings people to Lamberts Bay and to the island, and now it's gone'.

"When it's there you take it for granted, you don't actually realise what can go wrong."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    capenature  |  birds  |  environment

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.