It’s not something I’d expected initially, to find Penguins in South Africa. And yes, they were almost extinct because of the removal of bird eggs and declining fish stocks. Other reasons were attacks by domestic dogs and they say, even by Leopards.
The numbers of the Jackass Penguins, so called as they sound exactly like donkeys, decreased to currently only 170’000 birds which is about 10% of the original population of 50 years ago. There is hope as nowadays the breeding ground has been declared a protected area and additional nature reserves boost their numbers.
There are two shore-based breeding colonies in South Africa, one at the Boulders Beach near Simonstown, Cape Town, and the other at Stony Point Nature Reserve at the coastal town of Betty’s Bay in the Overberg.
The African Penguin grows to about seventy centimeters and weighs up to three kilograms. They mate for life and return to the same nesting site for up to fifteen years.
As we visited Stony Point I saw various species of Cormorants. The endangered Crowned Cormorant, the Cape Cormorant and the Bank Cormorant share a common breeding site with the penguins.
Walking over the boardwalk to the surrounding rocks I spotted the Rock Hyrax which is better known under its common name, Dassie. Also nursing their offspring with great affection.
As expected there were also sea gulls as they are surely everywhere to be found along the coast. The Hartlaub’s Gulls and Kelp Gulls make for a nice picture anyway.
Not many remnants tell the story of the old Waaygat Whaling Station. In the early 1900’s whale meat was processed at Stony Point. In my opinion a good decision to turn this place of a sad memory of whale slaughter into a wonderful nature reserve and to protect another endangered species of the sea.
Not quite done yet with all varieties of species on this little photo journey around Stony Point Nature Reserve … there are also reptiles.
Photos by Marcelle Simone Heller