Michelle du Toit
Photo Jenny Griffin
The Boulders: beach resort for penguins
Boulders Bay (or The Boulders) is situated in Simon’s Town, 35 km south of Cape Town. The area has small beaches surrounded by granite boulders with thickets of strandveld vegetation. The penguin colony falls within a suburban and recreational area, and is limited in space due to policy decisions. The Boulders is managed by South African National Parks, as part of the Table Mountain National Park, and is a great tourist attraction.
This site was established as a breeding colony of African Penguins in 1985, with two pairs nesting. By 1992, 158 pairs were breeding here, and the numbers have been increasing steadily since then, at a rate of almost 17% per year. This is one of only four mainland breeding sites of the African Penguin in the world. Some Crowned Cormorants use the rocks as roosting sites, and African Black Oystercatchers forage along the beach.
Feral cats and probably genets and mongooses prey on penguins at The Boulders, and penguins have been disturbed and killed by vehicular traffic. This is exacerbated by the lack of breeding space, with penguins starting to breed on the mountain side of the main road through town. Though the penguins here are remarkably tame, disturbance by tourists may be a problem. With each penguin’s “life earnings” being US$1250, wildlife does pay!