Seabird rescue centre gets boost with sponsorship of vehicle

Sanccob CEO Dr Stephen van der Spuy receives the keys to the new Ford Ranger from Stephen Theodosiou, director of Eastern Cape Motors
WELCOME SUPPORT: Sanccob CEO Dr Stephen van der Spuy receives the keys to the new Ford Ranger from Stephen Theodosiou, director of Eastern Cape Motors
Image: Supplied

The drive to protect critically endangered African penguins and threatened seabirds has been given a boost with the Ford Wildlife Foundation sponsorship of a vehicle to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) Port Elizabeth centre.

Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) will provide a locally built Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4 for a period of two years to the Sanccob.

Sanccob is a registered non-profit organisation whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured and oiled seabirds, including the endangered African penguin, and threatened species such as the Cape gannet, African black oystercatcher, cormorant and tern.

Once the birds have fully recovered, they are released back into the wild.

“We are delighted to extend our support for Sanccob, building on our existing relationship with the organisation’s main centre in Cape Town through the loan of a ‘Built Ford Tough’ Ranger for its important conservation programmes,” director of sales at Ford and Ford Wildlife Foundation chair Conrad Groenewald said.

“Sanccob Port Elizabeth does important work all along the Eastern Cape coast rescuing and rehabilitating African penguins and seabirds.”

Sanccob CEO Dr Stephen van der Spuy said: “Having access to a reliable and rugged Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4 will assist our rehabilitation staff and full-time volunteers in Port Elizabeth to collect birds brought to shore from the breeding islands in Algoa Bay.

“It will also help our team collect and transport birds identified as injured or in need of rehabilitation from other areas in the Eastern Cape, thereby contributing to our rehabilitation efforts of the African penguin and other threatened seabirds.” 

The Sanccob Port Elizabeth centre is based in the 366-hectare Cape Recife Nature Reserve on Marine Drive in Summerstrand.

The facility is open to the public, and provides educational tours and popular daily feeds for the penguins as one of its most important fundraising mechanisms.

The centre also features a new purpose-built rehabilitation pool with six pens, as well as a seabird hospital with a surgical theatre and intensive care unit.

“From a global population of roughly one million breeding pairs at the beginning of the 20th century to just 20,000 breeding pairs today, it is estimated that at the current rate of decline, African penguins in the wild could be functionally extinct in the next two decades,” Sanccob Port Elizabeth manager Margot Collett said.

To address this critical issue, in December 2019 Sanbbob  and SA National Parks (SANParks) appointed a penguin and seabird monitor in the Addo Elephant National Park Marine Protected Area.

The monitor is stationed on Bird Island and monitors the seabird colonies on St Croix Island and Bird Island which fall within the Addo protected area.

St Croix is home to the largest breeding population of African penguins in the world, however, the number of breeding pairs has seen a steep decline, and Sanccob’s conservation and rehabilitation measures are crucial for their long-term survival.

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