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Penguin chick rescue promises to increase wild population

SANCCOB chick releaseMore than 165 young penguins were reintroduced to the wild in January, part of the ongoing success of the African Penguin Chick Bolstering Project.

Although the African penguin population has declined more than 60 per cent in just three generations, new efforts by Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) may lead the way for saving the penguins.

The Chick Bolstering Projects removes the abandoned chicks from their colonies to be hand reared before being released back into the wild. In November 2010, a total of 482 chicks were rescued. Currently 284 chicks and other rehabilitated penguins remain in the care of SANCCOB, with the majority scheduled for eventual release back into the wild population.

"This project forms an important part of safe-guarding the future viability of the African penguin population," said Neil Greenwood, Campaigns Officer for IFAW. "African penguins are a landmark species and it would be folly not to act to save chicks wherever possible."

Venessa Strauss, Chief Executive Officer of SANCCOB, said hand rearing the chicks will have a significantly positive effect on conserving wild populations. "Hand reared chicks show higher survivorship to breeding age and higher productivity than birds that fledge naturally in the wild," she said.

Recent research by the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town demonstrated that the African penguin population is 19 percent higher than it would have been without SANCCOB’s efforts in rehabilitation.

To learn more about the African Penguin Chick Bolstering Project, please click here. supports IFAW and their partnership with SANCOBB through the Gifts That Give More  program.

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