22 June 2005

Oiled African penguins arrive in Cape Town for care

Close to one hundred oiled African penguins have been found on Bird Island in Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth, and 65 of them have been flown to Cape Town for cleaning and rehabilitation.

But conservationists do not believe the birds were oiled by fuel spilled from the stranded log-carrier Kiperousa, which is still firmly stuck on a reef near East London.

Rather, the culprit is believed to be a ship illegally cleaning its bilges as it sailed past Algoa Bay.

The oiled birds, which were flown to the city as SAA cargo, are being treated at the Rietvlei headquarters of Sanccob (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds).

They were rescued from Bird Island last week by South African National Parks with help from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's marine protection vessel, Ruth First, and Port Elizabeth's Bay World facility.

The remaining 33 oiled penguins are being treated in Port Elizabeth.

"The oil on the birds does not appear to have originated from the Kiperousa," said Sanccob fundraising manager Darden Lotz.

Also, the oil from the stranded ship was a light, diesel-like fuel, whereas the penguins had been polluted with a thick black oil, she added.

"This is not an oil spill - we suspect it is a result of ships illegally flushing their bilges."

National park staff are closely monitoring the penguin colonies on Bird Island and the surrounding small islands in search of more oiled birds.

After being washed, the African Penguins will undergo three-to-five weeks of rehabilitation before being strong enough to be released back into the wild.

# Anyone wanting to contribute to rehabilitating the oiled birds with donations of money and/or towels can contact Lotz at telephone number 021 557 6155.

Source: www.iol.co.za


Post a Comment

<< Home