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African Penguins: Towards an integrative population management

The “African Penguins and the Blue Economy” (Penguins) project has taken further steps in order to establish a science-based foundation to optimize conservation policies and protect the African Penguin in South Africa and Namibia.

The project was launched in January 2021 and despite the challenges due to the COVID-19 restrictions, a health survey of the penguins in Bassan Island, South Africa, has then already been conducted. Read more on the launch of the project here.

Another health survey of wild penguins commenced with samples collected from two islands, one in South Africa and one in Namibia. This is the outcome of many months of hard work by a team of people, led by Dr Laura Roberts of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

The toxicity study, which investigates the causes of the decline of the species, s led by Prof Dr Leslie Petrik of the Faculty of Natural Science, University of Western Cape, South Africa. This study has started with samples collected from two birds, which are to be analysed for toxic chemical compounds. The results are not only needed to explain past declines, but also to model and predict the population dynamics and viability.

The project has now also launched a website that displays the measures taken within the project, composed of a health survey, a toxic chemical survey, monitoring, modelling and the stakeholder assessment, as well as recordings of the progress of the project. Furthermore, an online symposium was held to update stakeholders and obtain their views on the project.

Another important step towards an integrative population management has been completed with surveying the relevant stakeholders. The outcomes of the questionnaires will be implemented to adjust for an optimal use in the decision-making process of the multi-stakeholder population management plan.