African Penguins On The Up

Good news: the protection of breeding areas help to stabilize numbers of the African (Jackass) Penguin.

A photo journey of the penguin breeding colony at Stony Point in South Africa, not only with breeding penguins!

The African (or Jackass) Penguin was almost extinct. Conservation efforts in South Africa fortunately have boosted the numbers.

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa
Stony Point Jackass Penguin Colony, Betty’s Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa
Most juvenile penguins molt into their adult plumage at 1.5-2 years of age.
Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa
Penguins lose all their feathers once a year during the molt. They do this to replace the worn out feathers.

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

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.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Not quite done yet with all varieties of species on this little photo journey around Stony Point Nature Reserve … there are also reptiles.

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Stony Point Pinguin Colony, Betty's Bay, South Africa

Photos by Marcelle Simone Heller

Two handsome penguins for your Pinterest board:

penguins-southafrica-2

penguins-southafrica

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Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

9 thoughts on “African Penguins On The Up”

  1. Love your photos of the penguins. I have seen them at Boulder Beach on my last visit to South Africa which was many years ago. But when I was a teenager growing up in Johannesburg, we used to go to the Cape for vacations, there were no penguins at Boulder Beach. Who knows where they came from, they are definitely an aberration.
    Peta

    1. Hi Peta, great that I woke some childhood memories in you with this article. I love Simon’s Town with the Boulder Beach, too. A beautiful place for vacations. Quite a drive from Johannesburg though.

  2. Great round up of the creatures out at Stoney. I live next to the Boulders penguin colony and it’s interesting to see how the numbers are doing better on the land-based colonies, while the island penguins are decreasing rapidly.

  3. South Africa is definitely on our bucket list. And instead of places like Sun city etc, we are more interested in the nature parks such as what you have shared. We learn and contribute economically through tourist dollars (hopefully in a conserving way) to the parks and turn it into viable economic assets for the country to preserve & protect.

    1. I agree. South Africa found a way to create numerous nature reserves which in contrast to other southern and east African countries are still affordable to the not so wealthy tourist. Don’t forget to ask for a ‘wildcard’ which allows unlimited access to all the parks in South Africa for a year. It pans out if you stay in the parks from about a week in total.

What do you think? Your comment is most appreciated.