June 5, 2017 Our Stories 0

 

Monday 5 June 2017 – World Environment Day

The definition of the word “environment”:

noun

1. The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal or plant lives or operates

2. The natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity.

Whether you are a penguin or a person the condition of the environment will affect you.

 

Why do we need to protect the environment? Because that blue dot in the universe is all we have…

 We are aware that some people recently stepped away from agreements and their commitment towards the environment.

On World Environmental Day, we would like to celebrate those who HAVE STEPPED UP to the challenge.  We, the members of the African penguin tribe, are celebrating those heroes who are committed to restoring our environment one penguin penthouse at a time.

Thank you to all the AZA members who are supporting and promoting this amazing initiative.

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums are promoting a first of a kind Kickstarter Campaign in the USA to help save endangered African Penguins

The news about the decline of the African penguin population is never good but there is always hope when organisations collaborate to prevent the extinction of this iconic bird through positive actions.The African penguin needs every little bit of help it can get and with the new “Invest In a Nest” Kickstarter campaign launched by the Members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) the African penguin is getting a little help from their friends.

These unique and fascinating birds used to build their nests in a thick, stable layer of guano — yep, that is poop. But for decades, their guano has been over-harvested by humans to sell as fertilizer, leaving them without a safe place to make their homes and raise their chicks. Because of the open nests gull predation increased, add to that the dwindling food supply, and habitat changes and you have a recipe for unimaginable population decline.

The African penguin needed a new custom designed “penguin penthouse” that would mimic the micro-climate conditions that the guano burrows provided as close as possible.

What does an African penguin look for in a penthouse?

  • A constant micro-climate
  • High relative humidity
  • Buffered temperatures
  • Little exposure to the wind
  • Shelter from rain & predation
  • Be constructed out of environmentally friendly material

The design for this new “Penguin Penthouse” didn’t happen overnight. According to Trudi Malan, the South African project leader from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, the process involved collaboration with all the relevant role players in the field of African penguin conservation including a variety of experts from AZA. “During phase one of the project, we spent 3 months rigorously field-testing 15 different nest prototypes, each equipped with high-precision sensors so we could identify the best performing prototypes”, said Malan. The inside temperature and humidity for each of the designs were continuously measured, blessing us with a total of 129 600 data points. The research team at the San Diego Zoo kindly donated their time and effort to produce a clear set of final results. The two top performing moved forward to the second phase of the project.

Invest In The Nest

“During phase two of the project, two hundred of the two best performing prototypes (100 of each type) will be deployed in four different colonies namely Boulders Beach, Stoney Point, Dyer Island and Bird Island. We will monitor the performance of these nests and are hoping that the Penguins will find them to their likening” said Malan.

As we are all aware, designing and building is not a cheap process and innovative ideas were required to fund the project. The members of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) heeded the call and stepped up to the challenge. They launched the “Invest In The Nest” campaign on Kickstarter, the innovative crowdfunding platform. The campaign seeks to raise $150,000 to help build and place 1,500 artificial nests for African penguins in South Africa and Namibia.

The deployment of the correct artificial nest that can mimic the micro-climate conditions of the guano burrows will without a doubt increase the ultimate survival of this iconic species.