The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB)is a leading marine-orientated non-profit organization which has treated more than 95 000 oiled, ill, injured or abandoned African penguins and other threatened seabirds since being established in 1968. Independent research confirms that the wild African population is 19% higher directly due to SANCCOB’s efforts.
SANCCOB works with numerous conservation-minded local and international partners and promotes projects which contribute toward the conservation and protection of Southern Africa´s seabirds, especially threatened species such as the African penguin. As project administrators we facilitate the funding of projects which are in line with the (draft) Biodiversity Management Plan for the African penguin, and which carry the approval of the South African government and mandated authorities.
SANCCOB is an internationally recognized leader in oiled wildlife response, rehabilitation and chick-rearing. We contribute to research which benefits seabirds, train people to care for the birds and educates the public to appreciate this unique heritage.
SANCCOB and partner projects
SANCCOB is involved in numerous marine conservation projects, many of them in collaboration with our partners in conservation, locally and internationally. All SANCCOB projects strive to contribute towards healthy, wild seabird populations through rehabilitation and research; raising awareness to encourage people to develop behavior patterns which benefit marine life and the environment it depends on; and through our readiness to respond to oil spills in our region.
All of SANCCOB’s African penguin projects are orientated towards arresting and reversing the decline of wild populations of African penguins and are aligned to the (draft) Biodiversity Management Plan for the African penguin.
Rehabilitation and chick-rearing.
SANCCOB’s primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned chicks and oiled African penguins and other vulnerable seabirds through artificial hand-rearing of orphaned seabirds, such as the African penguin and the Bank Cormorant.
SANCCOB works closely with colony managers to identify birds in need of our care in the wild and bring them to our centre in Cape Town for rehabilitation and hand-rearing. In a non-spill year we typically treat about 1 500 African penguins and 1 000 other seabirds. SANCCOB has two facilities – Cape Town and St. Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape.
Each year hundreds of African penguin chicks abandoned by their moulting parents are hand-reared at SANCCOB. SANCCOB is the administrator and a founder member of the Chick Bolstering Project, which aims to increase the number of African penguins in the wild through bolstering chicks and through understanding the foraging behavior of juvenile penguins. A long term aim of the project is to establish the viability of an artificial colony for African penguins along the South African coast line. Project partners include SANCCOB, Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, Animal Demography Unit (University of Cape Town,) the South African government – Department of Environmental Affairs (Oceans and Coasts), Cape Nature, Robben Island Museum and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Chick Rearing Unit
The CRU was officially opened on 25 November 2011 and is a culmination of extensive research on and fundraising for such a facility. It affirms SANCCOB’s commitment to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned chicks and oiled African penguins and other vulnerable seabirds. SANCCOB has developed the expertise to hatch chicks from eggs and the unit includes a ‘nursery’ for underweight and weak chicks brought into the centre.
Oiled Wildlife Response
SANCCOB maintains a state of 24/7 readiness to act in the event of an oil spill; to rescue and rehabilitate affected seabirds. SANCCOB has a national unfunded mandate, and responsibility, to respond to oil spills involving seabirds along the South African coastline. Via its relationship with Sea Alarm, this readiness to act extends into the rest of Africa, the Indian Ocean Islands and Sub-Antarctica. SANCCOB is recognized as one of the top international leaders in wildlife oil spill respondents with a strategic relationship with IFAW and strong working relationships with international emergency response organizations (Tri-State, International Bird Rescue, etc).
Oil spills are unpredictable and can be devastating to species such as the African penguin. It is critical that SANCCOB essential services are fully funded and ready to respond immediately to a call-to-action.
SANCCOB and our partners in conservation conduct research which contributes towards saving African penguins – a species in rapid decline, and other seabirds similarly threatened. In 2009 a benchmark Health Survey to establish the health of seabirds in the wild, mainly concentrating on African Penguins, was initiated.
There are a number of important unfunded research projects which can contribute significantly towards saving African penguins and Bank Cormorants. On-going support is needed to fund in-situ research projects and researchers. SANCCOB is collaborating with the University of Cape Town’s Dr Katta Ludynia by making funding available to conduct a tracking study of Cape Gannets in Namibia. This important work, spanning two breeding seasons, will give researches important insights into their foraging behavior.
The focus of Wild About Exploration…SANCCOB’s Environmental Education Centre is to create awareness of the plight of African penguins and other vulnerable seabirds, to educate the general public (children and adults) to preserve their natural and marine biodiversity and encourage individuals to actively combat the effect of pollution on the marine eco-system. The programs are designed with the sincere hope that the outcomes will result in conservation-minded action and sustainable behavioral changes.
SANCCOB is a CATHSSETA Accredited service provider and offer a number of training courses through our Eco-Skills Academy. This Academy of learning contributes towards the development of a professional environmental-worker skills base which can be called upon in times of emergency. SANCCOB has a long history of training field workers and rescue teams to work with seabirds and has a bursary fund for underprivileged students.
SANCCOB administers projects and partners with like-minded organizations to roll out projects which benefit in-situ marine conservation.
One such project, The Burgher’s Walk Restoration Project, is in the process of restoring the area adjacent to the Boulders African penguin colony where a significant percentage of African penguins are breeding and living. The project is a collaboration between The City of Cape Town, South African National Parks and SANCCOB. The restoration outcomes include adequate fencing to safeguard these Endangered penguins, a structured walk way, and four Penguin monitors to monitor the area.
SANCCOB actively works together with government to ensure that the decline of wild populations of African penguins and other threatened species is arrested and reversed, and that legislation which supports a healthy marine climate is developed and upheld.
Volunteering is at the heart of the SANCCOB operation. Each year about 200 international volunteers spend periods of 6-weeks or longer at SANCCOB working hands-on alongside the team. SANCCOB has a well-developed Volunteer Program, which supports local and international volunteers and facilitates structured intern and learner programs, with links to leading international universities.