Reprieve for dogs after penguin deaths in Cape Town

2015-10-09 13:42
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Cape Town - The city would boost protection measures between Seaforth Beach and Franks Bay following the death of another 22 African penguins killed north of Seaforth Beach near Simon's Town.

Since January 42 endangered African penguins have been killed in 10 dog-related incidents, leading to the banning of dogs in some areas, the city said.

Although the dog ban along Burghers' Walk would be lifted, the city warned owners who were unable to control their dogs, would precipitate a permanent ban being implemented.

"Based on the observed incident patterns, field observations and the necropsy reports from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) veterinarian, it has been deduced the most likely predator is one or more dogs.

"This is a substantial loss to the penguin breeding population in Simon’s Town. The situation cannot be allowed to continue."

Active participation and responsibility

The city said it was continually seeking an appropriate balance between protecting the African penguin and not over-regulating human recreation in the area.

"We therefore urge members of the public to work with us. We need active participation and responsibility from every person who uses the area," said mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Two more full-time penguin monitors would be appointed in addition to the four monitors currently employed. Shark Explorers and the Simon’s Town Boat Company would provide their funding.

The penguin monitors would patrol the area from sunrise to sunset on a full-time basis from November 1 to January 31 next year.

Effective October 10 Burghers’ Walk would be reopened to dogs, but leashes were mandatory and an ongoing non-compliance with this requirement would force a permanent closure of the area to dogs. The city temporarily banned dogs along this walkway on August 25.

Breeding penguins

Recent nest counts of breeding penguins indicate of the 982 nests counted, 109 nests were located along Burghers’ Walk and the areas immediately south thereof.

The sand area only of Windmill Beach remained a free-running beach for dogs. However, the city said the onus was on dog owners to ensure their pets were controlled and did not approach or harass the penguins. Should this behaviour continue, the recommendation would be to remove Windmill Beach as a free-running dog area.

Anyone unable to control their dogs via voice or whistle commands should keep their pets on leashes. Dogs also had to be on the leash when arriving and leaving the beach.

The city said the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources currently listed the African penguin as endangered with a steady decline in numbers over the past decade. The population was around 2.5% of levels 80 years ago.

Members of the public who observed unaccompanied dogs in the Burghers’ Walk area were urged to report this to City Law Enforcement on 021 596 1999.

Read more on:    cape town  |  conservation  |  animals

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