Rehab for oiled penguins continues

2016-09-07 06:00
SANCCOB staff and volunteers assisted in the rehabilitation of 92 oiled African penguins after a recent oil spill.      Photo: SUPPLIED

SANCCOB staff and volunteers assisted in the rehabilitation of 92 oiled African penguins after a recent oil spill. Photo: SUPPLIED

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ALL 92 oiled African penguins who were admitted to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) following the recent oil spill in Algoa Bay, have been successfully washed and rinsed.

The oiled penguins, along with 61 penguin chicks, were rescued from St Croix Island in a collaborative rescue operation by the Marine Rangers from the Addo Elephant National Park – South African National Parks (SANParks), the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and SANCCOB.

They were transported to SANCCOB’s seabird centre in Cape St Francis and to the South African Marine Rehabilitation Centre (SAMREC) in Port Elizabeth.

SANCCOB’s team of staff and volunteers washed the first penguins on Sunday, August 21, with the last bird being washed on Thursday afternoon, August 25.

The entire washing and rinsing process of each bird can take up to two hours, before the birds are placed in drying pens under infra-red heat lamps, that assist in speeding up the drying process.

The washed birds will continue to be cared for by the team at its centre in Cape St Francis, until they are ready for release.

Juanita Raath, SANCCOB’s Rehabilitation Coordinator in the Eastern Cape, said, “We are very happy with the progress made so far and that all the birds are now clean. However, the rehabilitation process is far from finished, as we still need to make sure that each bird regains its natural waterproofing, picks up sufficient weight, regains its hydration and passes all our medical and veterinary checks, before being able to go back into the wild.

“So there is still a lot of feeding, cleaning and caring to be done. The penguin chicks will, of course, stay for a longer period as they still need to grow into juveniles that are fit and ready for life in the wild.”

The exact cause of the oil spill is still to be confirmed by authorities investigating the matter.

Currently, SANCCOB has sufficient staff and volunteers to assist in the rehabilitation of these endangered seabirds and thanks the public for generously donating towels and newspapers needed at the centre.

Thanks to the public, SANCCOB has sufficient supplies of these items but encourages supporters to visit the Wish List page on their website (http://sanccob.co.za/involved/#wishlist) for additional items needed at the centre.

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