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

African Penguins On The Up

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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The owner, Gisela, is Swiss and lives in Cape Town. She is multilingual.

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