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WWF Press Release: 09-14 July 2000

Press releases:

Penguins Rescue Update no 13: 14 July 2000, afternoon

Peter, Percy & Pam: (Progress report by Dr Rober Crawford)

Peter, from Robben Island, is well past Cape Agulhas, heading to Dyer Island. We know that many of the birds that breed at Robben Island (as well as Stony Point and Boulders) were hatched at Dyer Island. Numbers breeding at Dyer Island decreased from more than 20 000 pairs in 1980 to about one tenth of that today. In recent years most young birds seem to have emigrated from Dyer Island to set up home at other colonies. Will Peter spend some time at Dyer Island on his way home? If so, let's hope he remembers to beware of the seals and sharks there. Because Peter's instrument turns off for 24 hours we may not know the answer until Sunday morning.

Percy, from Dassen Island, is making good progress and is south of Arniston. If Peter loiters at Dyer Island, Percy, who started last of the three, may overtake him.

Pamela, also from Dassen Island, is approaching Stilbaai.

The good progress of Peter and Percy, means that many of the 20 000 penguins translocated to Algoa Bay will be returning home during the course of next week. Let us pray that they will not come back to oil around their islands. (To follow the progress of the penguins, visit the Animal Demography Unit's website at http://www.uct.ac.za/)

Australians offer assistance

The first of two groups of Australian penguin rehabilitation experts will arrive in South Africa tomorrow to assist SANCCOB with the penguin rescue operation. The Australians are amongst the world's leading experts in this field. Nedbank will be funding all accommodation costs and 50 per cent of the airfare through The Green Trust, a joint partnership with WWF-SA. SAA is funding the rest of the airfare, and the Mazda Wildlife Fund will be making two courtesy cars available for the duration of the Australians' stay.


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Penguins Rescue Update no 12: 14 July 2000, morning

AUSTRALIAN EXPERTS TO HELP SANCCOB

The first of two groups of Australian penguin rehabilitation experts will arrive in South Africa on Saturday, 15 July 2000, to assist SANCCOB with the penguin rescue operation. The Australians are amongst the world's leading experts in this field.

Ms Estelle van der Merwe, Manager of SANCCOB has welcomed this offer of assistance. "SANCCOB welcomes the steady stream of international experts who have been arriving to help since the beginning of the crisis. As the penguin rescue operation will be ongoing for at least the next two to three months, this help is invaluable."

Several South African businesses have joined forces to make this assistance possible. Nedbank will be funding all accommodation costs and 50 per cent of the airfare through The Green Trust, a joint partnership with WWF-SA. SAA is funding the rest of the airfare, and the Mazda Wildlife Fund will be making two courtesy cars available for the duration of the Australians' stay.

The first group of four is from the Phillipi Nature Park in Melbourne, where they run their own 'penguin hospital'. Dr Rosalind Jessop; Ms Margaret Healy; Ms Leanne Renwick; and Mr Peter Collins are all experienced at handling, banding, catching and feeding penguins as well as cleaning oiled birds. They successfully rehabilitated 250 oiled birds in January this year.

The other group is from Sydney and will join their Austrialian colleagues on Tuesday, 18 July 2000. Tania Duratovic; Lucy Fish; Howard Ralph and Libby Hall are experts in the rehabilitation of oiled fauna and participated in the rescue of Little Penguins after the Iron Baron oil spill in Tasmania in 1996. The Australians are generously providing of their time free of charge.


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Penguins Rescue Update no 11: 13 July 2000

Peter, Percy & Pam Dr Robert Crawford of Marine and Coastal Management confirms that all three have checked in again. Peter is just west of Cape Agulhas, Percy is just west of Stil Bay, and Pamela is just west of Mossel Bay. All are some distance offshore.

Sunken 'Treasure'

It would seem as if the amount of oil spilled from the 'Treasure' has been seriously under-estimated and that there is most likely 100 t still left on the vessel.

Chick collectors

Chick collectors have rescued 68 chicks and 22 oiled penguins on Dassen Island. They are stabilising the penguins on the island and will bring the birds to the mainland tomorrow (Friday). They have also found some dead (oiled) penguins on the island.

Australian experts offer assistance

The first group of four Australian penguin rehabilitation experts will arrive in South Africa on Saturday, 15 July 2000, to assist Sanccob with the Penguin Rescue Operation. Nedbank, SAA and the Mazda Wildlife Fund have joined forces to bring the Australians to South Africa.

Sanccob

Sanccob is rehabilitating 18 500 penguins at their Salt River facility and 3 800 at their Rietvlei facility.

Volunteers who can assist after the holidays, must please phone one of the following numbers: (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

Donations 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.


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Penguins Rescue Update no 10: 12 July 2000

Heading for stormy waters?

Peter, Percy & Pam

Dr Robert Crawford of Marine and Coastal Management reports that the three transmitter birds are all progressing. Peter, from Robben Island, at 1900 yesterday (Tuesday) was directly south of Breede River mouth. He was released at Cape Recife on June 30 am.

Percy, released July 5 am, was just west of Mossel Bay (past seals and sharks) at midnight last night. Pam (released July 3 am) was directly south of George at 2 am today (Wednesday). Both are from Dassen Island.

The first releases of about 150 birds were two days ahead of Peter, so they may be rounding Cape Agulhas.

A heavy storm is expected over the next few days and may break up the ship. Between 150 t and 550 t oil is estimated to still be on the sunken Treasure. We hope if the ship breaks up and oil is released that the wind will push it onto the mainland beaches. If not, we may have a lot of oil back in the sea as the penguins come back from Port Elizabeth.

Slightly more than 20 000 birds were translocated to Port Elizabeth, 13 000 from Dassen Island and 7 000 from Robben Island.

Chick collectors

The evacuation of 'orphaned' chicks from Robben and Dassen Islands continue. Last night, WWF-SA sponsored a helicopter to take a team of chick collectors to Dassen Island.

Australian experts offer assistance

Eight Australian penguin rehabilitation experts will arrive in South Africa soon to assist with the Penguin Rescue Operation. Nedbank, through The Green Trust, is funding their accommodation costs and 50% of their airfare. The rest of the airfare has been donated by South African Airways. The Australians are generously providing of their time free of charge.

South Africa and Australia - being in the Southern Hemisphere which is home to the world's entire penguin population - have both been exposed to the devastating effects which oil spillages have on seabirds.

Assistance of another kind

WWF-SA donated R148 719 and R315 000 to the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and Court Helicopters respectively for the effective evacuation of un-oiled penguins from Dassen Island and their subsequent transport by road to Port Elizabeth where they were released. In turn, Court Helicopters presented WWF with a generous donation. WWF-SA also donated R50 000 to the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town for the ringing of penguins prior to their release.

Sanccob

Sanccob reports that no penguins are ready to be released yet. There is great concern that Sanccob will not have enough volunteers when the winter school holidays come to an end this week. Volunteers who can assist after the holidays, must please phone one of the following numbers: (021) 480 7726 / 29 / 30 / 49 between 8:00 and 19:00.

Donations 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.
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Penguins Rescue Update no 9: 11 July 2000

Percy Penguin overtakes Pamela

Peter, Percy & Pamela

While Peter, at Still Bay, is leading the race home, Percy is now in 2nd position after overtaking Pam. They are both between Knysna and George at present. Peter can be home by Thursday, 20 July, if he keeps up his speed.

Chicks

Today, the evacuation of chicks continued and 175 chicks were removed from Robben Island. The Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban will help care for some of the chicks, while Sanccob is now looking after 23 000 birds and 20 000 are swimming homewards from Port Elizabeth. Some of the birds will need time to recover and thus the rescue operation may last for many weeks to come.

Strong winds and heavy rains

Real winter gales and rain are forecast for the rest of this week, so it remains to be seen how the sunken vessel 'Treasure," with most of its oil still on board, will hold up.

Volunteers & donations

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 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.