Oceana Group has announced a further allocation to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in support of the rehabilitation and conservation of southern Africa’s coastal birds by making a contribution of R200 000. Oceana Group previously sponsored SANCCOB with an amount of R170 000.

Said CEO Francois Kuttel: “Our relationship with SANCCOB dates back many years, to when SA Searoducts and Snoekies in Hout Bay donated pilchards for feeding purposes; and we continue to recognise that without organisations such as SANCCOB, this level of seabird conservation would not be possible. Our own environmental policy directs that all of the Group’s activities be underpinned by an approach that seeks to utilise natural resources in a sustainable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. We applaud SANCCOB for their ongoing commitment and commendable work.”

The R200 000 contribution will be allocated as follows:

Rehabilitation: R60 000
These funds will be used specifically to contribute towards the rehabilitation costs of hand-rearing 114 abandoned juvenile Cape gannets from Lamberts Bay colony, which are currently at SANCCOB. This is the second year the organisation received unexpectedly large numbers of juvenile gannets abandoned by their migrating parents. This annual occurrence has led to SANCCOB collaborating with partners on research to understand the migratory patterns of these birds, classified as VULNERABLE on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data List. Oceana’s contribution will represent 60% of the costs.

Hatchery: R100 000
R100 000 will be used towards the development of a hatchery at SANCCOB, in order to learn essential techniques needed to raise chicks from eggs. The emphasis will be on African penguins as the eggs from this species are readily available. The species is already classified as ENDANGERED on the IUCN Red Data List. The skills will ultimately benefit all species of seabird: should any species occurring in southern Africa, such as Cormorants and Cape Gannets, experience a dramatic decline, the skills will be in place to consider bolstering wild populations, should this be recommended. The cost to renovate an existing building on-site and to equip the Hatchery is R250 000, with Oceana’s contribution representing 40% of the costs.

Education – Science on the Boat programme: R40 000
Two years ago SANCCOB launched a programme whereby children become ‘Ocean Doctors’ for a day and were given the chance to assess the health of the ocean. The programme is designed to bring underprivileged children into contact with a marine environment, with the sincere hope that this experience will stimulate an interest in caring for seabirds and the marine environment. In 2011, eight trips, each accommodating 40 children from previously disadvantaged schools in Hout Bay, will derive direct benefit. In addition to the boat trip, the children are provided with transport, lunch and learning material. Oceana’s contribution will represent 100% of the costs.

Said SANCCOB Chief Executive Officer Venessa Strauss: “It’s humbling to look back over the years to the early days when our predecessors at SANCCOB received support from Snoekies and SA Sea products, and it is with pleasure that in 2011/2012 we expand this relationship to also include education and training in areas such as Hout Bay. “We value our relationship with Oceana and we’re encouraged to be working with a group of people who not only recognize the need to conserve the marine environment, especially since seabirds act as indicator species of the health of the ocean, but who also invest in the development of communities who rely on the marine environment for their livelihoods. Our partnership results in a high impact strategy where we strive towards a more responsible way of living to ensure that future generations can enjoy South Africa’s rich biodiversity for many years to come.”

For further information, kindly contact OGL Communications Manager, Anthea Abraham: aabraham@oceana.co.za.