The waters off South Africa contain major shipping lanes, and oil spills are frequent and deadly for African penguins.SANCCOB, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, is the biggest rehabilitation center in the region, and responsible for successfully rehabbing tens of thousands of penguins affected by spills. The SSP's goal is to ensure the long-term survival of a viable population of African penguins.
Through pointing (when a penguin lowers its body to the ground and point its beak at another penguin), biting, fighting and braying, dominant birds (usually older) establish a pecking order, and will literally put a juvenile bird in its place by chasing or herding if they feel challenged.
Breeding pairs in the wild dig burrows in guano or sand, or build nests under bushes and boulders, but past guano collection by people has made suitable burrow territory harder to come by.
Conservation efforts in Africa include ongoing monitoring of population trends, and introducing artificial nesting structures.
African penguins feed on anchovies and sardines in the wild, and we simulate their diet at the Academy by offering sustainably caught herring and capelin, supplemented by vitamins, including B-1, E, and a multi-vitamin.
At every feeding a volunteer records what each bird eats, gathering data which helps biologists monitor the well-being of each individual.
Additional research is needed on the impacts of fishing and predation, reintroduction and translocation techniques, and shifts in penguins' food sources.