Cape Town - A Cape leopard has killed 33 endangered African penguins at the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay, forcing CapeNature to increased nocturnal patrols and introduce additional scent deterrents in the area.
On Saturday, 11 June 2016, the leopard was spotted near the colony where 33 birds were seen dead, and left one injured. A surviving chick and five penguin eggs were also found at empty nest sites in the area.
The injured penguin, chick and eggs, were sent to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) for rehabilitation, rearing and incubation.
SANCCOB confirmed the wounds on the birds were consistent with those caused by a leopard.
Following the incident, CapeNature has been conducting daytime vigilance and nocturnal patrols at the colony by using scent deterrents such as lion scat and pepper spray to discourage the leopard from returning to the site.
Dog patrols are conducted randomly to aid in defensive scent marking, while camera traps have been set up in locations to remotely monitor occurrences.
Stony Point is one of the largest breeding colonies of endangered African penguins in the world and has been showing a measurable increase in breeding pairs, especially in comparison to declining populations of most island colonies.
Back in 2010, when the African penguin was declared endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there were only about 1 244 pairs, but today it is home to over 2 388 breeding pairs.
Since its establishment in 1982 when the first active nest site was recorded, Stony Point has continued to house breeding pairs of African penguin, despite a period between the 1980s and 1990s when more than 100 birds were predated by a leopard.
CapeNature took over the management of the colony in June 2014 and will embrace the adaptive management process to find a best practice resolution for the colony.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- #ShockWildlifeTruths: Cape Leopard shot in rescue attempt gone wrong
- Kruger leopard takes up camp at Letaba, forces out day visitors
- #ShockWildlifeTruths: 69 Endangered African penguin chicks rescued as fish stocks decline