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WWF Press Release: 03-08 July 2000

WWF South Africa
Media Release

Press releases:

Penguins Rescue Update 8 July 2000

Peter Penguin approaches shark territory

Peter, Pamela & Percy

According to Dr Robert Crawford of Marine and Coastal Management, all three penguins are still heading home, but giving time for the oil between their home islands to clear. "Peter checked in again at 20h00 on Friday 7 July, when he was about 25 km offshore to the south of George, still heading the field. We wish him well as he approaches Mossel Bay known for its seals and sharks, both predators of penguins. He is wise to be moving offshore." Peter is swimming at an average speed of just more than 1,2 km per hour and has completed one third of his homeward journey.

At 23h00 on Friday July 7, Pam was off the Tsitsikamma coast, some distance offshore. She was not much farther west than the previous day.

Percy, released last of the three, was just behind Pamela about 6 km off Elands River in Tsitsikamma Coastal National Park at 03h00 on Saturday July 8. (To follow the progress of the penguins, visit the Animal Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/)

Although Peter, Pam and Percy are the only penguins tagged with satellite transmitters, they are heading home together with 12 500 penguins from Dassen Island and 5 000 penguins from Robben Island. All of them were released at Cape Recife near Port Elizabeth after they had been evacuated from their home islands.

Another 2 000 un-oiled penguins are waiting to be transported to Port Elizabeth where they will also be released.

Today, 58 heavily oiled birds and 108 chicks were taken to Sanccob. Scientists and helpers were also ringing some 300 lightly oiled birds which were subsequently released.

Pumping oil from the sunken 'Treasure' continues with more success than earlier this week.

SANCCOB (South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds)

Sanccob is now taking care of some 19 000 penguins and 250 chicks at their Salt River centre, and 3 500 penguins at their Rietvlei centre. 1 670 chicks are being hand-reared by two private households.

This means that 43 670 penguins have been translocated or are being cared for at present. Mortality has been less than 1 000.

"WWF salutes the immense efforts by Sanccob and by thousands of volunteers, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who have stepped in to help the African penguins face this enormous challenge," says Dr Ian Macdonald, Chief Executive of WWF-SA. "The rescue operation is, however, far from over. Many birds will steed need care in six weeks' time."

Volunteers and donations are still desperately needed.

Volunteers:

Volunteers who are willing to work 5-hour shifts at a time, must please phone one of the following telephone numbers (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

Donations:

Crossed cheques or postal orders can also be forwarded to: WWF Penguin Appeal, WWF-SA, PO Box 456, Stellenbosch 7599, or by direct bank transfer to ABSA Stellenbosch, Branch code 334410, Account no: 40-5178-1879.

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Penguins Rescue Update 7 July 2000

Race against time as returning penguins hurtle homewards

 

Peter, Pamela & Percy

While penguins Peter, Pamela and Percy are hurtling homewards, the oil clean-up operation in the Western Cape continues. Oil is still leaking from the sunken "Treasure" and a long trail of oil stretches towards the west.

Peter has now passed Plettenberg Bay on his homeward journey. He was seen swimming with three other penguins by people on a boat. Pamela and Percy have passed the Tsitsikamma Coastal National Park and Oyster Bay respectively. (To follow the progress of the penguins, visit the Animal Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/)

SANCCOB (South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds)

Yesterday, 274 heavily oiled penguins and 170 chicks were evacuated from Dassen Island by boat and taken to Sanccob's Salt River rehabilitation centre. The adults were given rehidrating fluids by mouth to increase their chances of survival. No penguins were evacuated today because of rough seas.

Sanccob is now taking care of some 23 000 penguins in their centres in Table View and Salt River, where the penguins consume about 10 tonnes of fish per day. It it hoped that some 200 birds will be ready for release by early next week.

Good news

The Green Trust, which is funded by Nedbank and its clients, has pledged between R50 000 and R100 000 to bring out four world experts on the environmental effects of oil disasters. They will arrive in the country next week to assist. Nedbank, through the Nedcor Foundation, has also donated R20 000 to a special Nedbank/Green Trust Penguin Fund which has been set up to help fund the clean-up operation. For the month of July, Nedbank will donate R100 for every new green affinity cheque, credit card or savings account into this Fund. People who wish to contribute, can make direct donations into the account, i.e. Stellenbosch branch of Nedbank, account no 1071 318 454.

Crossed cheques or postal orders can also be forwarded to: WWF Penguin Appeal, WWF-SA, PO Box 456, Stellenbosch 7599, or by direct bank transfer to ABSA Stellenbosch, Branch code 334410, Account no: 40-5178-1879.

Volunteers willing to work 5-hour shifts at a time must please phone one of the following telephone numbers (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

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Penguins Rescue Update 5 July 2000

Evacuation of penguins from Dassen Island:

When it was announced that only one of the 12 500 un-oiled birds that had been translocated from Dassen Island to Port Elizabeth, died, Professor Les Underhill of the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town stated: "On the basis of the known mortality rate, it seems those birds were safer during the translocation operation than when they're in the ocean!" Dr Ian Macdonald, Chief Executive of WWF South Africa, said this was a tremendous tribute to the care and diligence of the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, their contracted staff and volunteers.

Yesterday, 930 oiled penguins were evacuated from Dassen Island, and so far, 220 heavily-oiled penguins have been removed today. This has been possible with the help of Court Helicopters who fly the penguins from the island to the mainland.

Progress of penguins tagged with satellite transmitters:

Peter, the first penguin to be fitted with a SAP Africa-sponsored transmitter is near Plettenberg Bay - he has covered about 150 km since he was released on 30 June and has completed about 28% of the long swim home.If he maintains his average speed over the past five days, he will get back to Robben Island on 21 July. Pamela (released on 3 July) is now swimming just off Cape St Francis after she had a late start because she lingered to feed before she started the long trek home. The third penguin, Percy, did not stop for feeding after he was released yesterday morning, and is making a beeline for Cape Town. He is at Sea View, just past Cape Recife.

To follow the progress of the penguins, visit the Avian Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/depts/stats/adu/

Cleaning of penguins by SANCCOB:

Sanccob, the organisation responsible for the rehabilitation of oiled seabirds, are now treating some 18 500 penguins at Salt River. Sanccob hopes to be able to start releasing 1 800 rehabilitated penguins per day in a weeks time.

Western Cape Minister of the Environment, Mr Glen Adams, visited Salt River today and volunteered his serves. Actors starring in well-known South African sit-coms, will make an appearance at Salt River on Saturday to help with Project Penguin Rescue.

Sanccob has once again called for help from volunteers willing to work 5-hour shifts at a time and helping with a variety of tasks. Volunteers must please phone one of the following telephone numbers (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

Contributions:

Contributions - large or small - are desperately needed. WWF-SA is co-ordinating the fundraising drive on behalf of SANCCOB. Crossed cheques or postal orders can be forwarded to: WWF Penguin Appeal, WWF-SA, PO Box 456, Stellenbosch 7599 or by direct bank transfer to ABSA Stellenbosch, Branch code 334410, Account no: 40-5178-1879.

(Most recent contributions are from Independent Newspapers, Canon, Storm Model Agency, Naspers.)
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Penguins Rescue Update 5 July 2000

Evacuation of penguins from Dassen Island:

The evacuation of oiled penguins and chicks from Dassen Island commenced today after a total of 12 435 unoiled penguins had been removed from the Island. By 11:00 today, 435 oiled penguins and 170 chicks were captured. The oiled birds are taken to SANCCOB's Milnerton and Salt River rehabilitation facilities, while the chicks, which need specialised care, are taken to two chick care facilities in Melkbos and Table View.

Progress of penguins tagged with satellite transmitters:

The third (and last) penguin fitted with a SAP Africa-sponsored satellite transmitter, Percy, was released at Port Elizabeth at 8:20 this morning. Pamela, who spent her first day after release on Monday at sea close to Cape Recife, has now turned westwards, towards Cape Town. Peter (released on 30 June 2000) continues to make good progress towards Cape Agulhas; he is now passing the Tsitsikamma Coastal National Park and heading for Natures Valley. To follow the progress of the penguins, visit the Avian Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/depts/stats/adu/

Cleaning of penguins by SANCCOB:

Sanccob, the organisation responsible for the rehabilitation of oiled seabirds, now has some 14 000 penguins (amongst which some 200 oiled chicks) at their Salt River site and 3 500 at their Milnerton site. These two operations are being assisted by the Sea Point Aquarium.

Sanccob has once again called for help from volunteers willing to work 5-hour shifts at a time and helping with a variety of tasks. Volunteers must please phone one of the following telephone numbers (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

Contributions:

Contributions - large or small - are desperately needed. WWF-SA is co-ordinating the fundraising drive on behalf of SANCCOB. Crossed cheques or postal orders can be forwarded to: WWF Penguin Appeal, WWF-SA, PO Box 456, Stellenbosch 7599 or by direct bank transfer to ABSA Stellenbosch, Branch code 334410, Account no: 40-5178-1879.

(Most recent contributions are from ABSA Bank and Caltex.)
 

Penguins Rescue Update 4 July 2000

Evacuation of penguins from Dassen Island:

Today, the evacuation of un-oiled penguins from Dassen Island for translocation to Port Elizabeth continued in excellent weather conditions. The total number of un-oiled penguins removed from the island, now stands on 11 000, bringing this operation to an end.

The rest of the un-oiled birds on the island will now be released from the barrier so that they can enter the sea to feed. This decision is based on the fact that it is hazardous to their health to hold them back from feeding any longer.

The evacuation of oiled birds from the island will now commence. The evacuation of chicks will also start. Chicks which are less than three weeks from fledging will be evacuated. (Chicks less than three weeks from fledging have good fat reserves and a good chance of survival until fledging and thus a stage when they can be released.)

Progress of penguins tagged with satellite transmitters:

Peter, the 1st penguin that was tagged with a SAP Africa-sponsored satellite transmitter and released in the ocean at Cape Recife near Port Elizabeth on 30 June 2000, is now at Cape St Francis. Pamela, released on 3 July 2000, is still at Cape Recife. She is probably feeding as she went without food for some time before her release. To follow the progress of the penguins as they make their way home, visit the Animal Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/depts/stats/adu/

Cleaning of penguins by SANCCOB:

Sanccob, the organisation responsible for the rehabilitation of oiled seabirds, now has 16 000 penguins at their Salt River site. An additional penguin wash facility was installed today. Sanccob still needs volunteers willing to work 5-hour shifts at a time and helping with a variety of tasks. Volunteers must please phone one of the following telephone numbers (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

Contributions:

Contributions - large or small - are desperately needed. WWF-SA is co-ordinating the fundraising drive on behalf of SANCCOB. Crossed cheques or postal orders can be forwarded to: WWF Penguin Appeal, WWF-SA, PO Box 456, Stellenbosch 7599 or by direct bank transfer to ABSA Stellenbosch, Branch code 334410, Account no: 40-5178-1879.

(Most recent contributions are from ABSA and the Mazda Wildlife Fund.)
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Penguins Rescue Update 3 July 2000

Evacuation of penguins from Dassen Island:

The evacuation of some 15 000 penguins from Dassen Island, which started yesterday (Sunday, 2 June 2000), has continued today in good weather conditions. The Cape Nature Conservation Board is responsible for the logistics of this massive operation which includes the evacuation, packing, loading, transporting and unloading of penguins in Port Elizabeth.

Earlier today, the second of two truck-loads of birds (some 2 500 altogether) arrived safely in Port Elizabeth. Amongst them was a penguin from Dassen Island fitted with the 2nd of three SAP Africa-sponsored satellite transmitters. It was released into the sea at Port Elizabeth at 19:40 this morning. (To follow the progress of the penguins as they swim back to the Cape Peninsula, visit the Animal Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/depts/stats/adu/).

Four truck-loads of penguins with some 3 300 penguins are presently on their way to Port Elizabeth.

Cleaning of penguins at SANCCOB:

SANCCOB has presently 14 500 at their Salt River operation, where the SA Navy assisted with helpers today, and 4 000 at their Milnerton operation. At Salt River, only 30 birds died, which makes for an excellent survival rate.

SANCCOB has made an urgent appeal for committed volunteers over the age of 16 - people who are willing to work 5-hour shifts for a few days. Volunteers must please phone one of the following telephone numbers: 021- 480.7726/29/30/49 between 8:00 and 19:00.>

Green Trust initiative: A team of seabird rescue experts will be brought in from Australia to assist local scientists with the rescue operation. Nedbank, through The Green Trust, is funding the costs of bringing the Australians to South Africa.

Fundraising drive: Estimated costs of the rescue operation are R40 million. Contributions - large or small - are therefore desperately needed. WWF South Africa is co-ordinating the fundraising drive on behalf of SANCCOB. Crossed cheques or postal orders can be sent to: WWF Penguin Appeal, WWF-SA, PO Box 456, Stellenbosch 7599 or by direct bank transfer to ABSA Stellenbosch, Branch code: 334410, Account number: 40-5178-1879.

(Contributions have already been made by, inter alia, the Cape Metropolitan Council, Arizon SA, Court Helicopters, SAP Africa, and Engen.)