African penguins: The importance of Stony Point

Apr 22, 2022 | Activities

The African penguin is endemic to South-Western Africa and currently breeds in 27 localities. In the early part of the 20th century the African penguin population was over a million breeding pairs globally, but it declined to 147 000 breeding pairs by 1950.

BREEDING PAIRS

IN 2021 the population hit a historical low: ONLY 10400 breeding pairs were recorded in South Africa.

 

Because of these sharp declines in the numbers, the species was declared endangered in 2010. But this has not halted the devastation population reduction.

 

One of the most significant threats to the African penguin is the lack of abundance and availability of prey. African penguins primarily forage on small pelagic fish such as sardine and anchovy. But sardine and anchovy populations are currently at a low, with the sardine stock considered depleted as these small pelagic fish are also exploited by commercial fisheries.

Because of these sharp declines in the numbers, the species was declared endangered in 2010. But this has not halted the devastation population reduction.

One of the most significant threats to the African penguin is the lack of abundance and availability of prey. African penguins primarily forage on small pelagic fish such as sardine and anchovy. But sardine and anchovy populations are currently at a low, with the sardine stock considered depleted as these small pelagic fish are also exploited by commercial fisheries.

The importance of Stony Point:

African penguins traditionally breed on islands. Stony Point Nature Reserve in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve is one of only two land-based colonies found along the South African coast. It’s a rocky peninsula within Betty’s Bay on the southern coast, about 75 km southeast of Cape Town.

Apart from the African penguins breeding at Stony Point, the area is also an important breeding site for other seabirds, including the endangered Cape cormorant, endangered Bank cormorant, White-breasted cormorant as well as the Crowned cormorant.

 

The first African penguin nest at Stony Point was found in 1982 and the numbers slowly increased to 35 breeding pairs in 1986.

A leopard attack in December 1986 reduced the size of the colony, which led to a fence being erected around the breeding area.

The colony subsequently grew steadily over the years with an average of 1500 breeding pairs currently at the colony.

That makes this population in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve absolutely essential,
and one that must be protected.

Images: Corlie Hugo and LoveGreen Communications

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