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Thursday, January 19, 2017
BSc (Hons) Project - Can we afford to lose African penguins?
BSc (Hons) Project Institute for Coastal & Marine Research (ICMR) Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Port Elizabeth
Can we afford to
lose African penguins?
Supervisor: Dr Lorien Pichegru, Institute
for Coastal and Marine Research
Co-supervisors: Prof. Mandy Lombard, Institute
for Coastal and Marine Research
Peter Myles, Tournet Africa.
to the project: R40 000.
Penguins are highly iconic species much
loved by the general public. They are also among the most threatened seabird
species (Croxall et al. 2012).
African penguin numbers have decreased by 70%
since 2004 in South Africa (Crawford et al. 2011), and major conservation
efforts have been undertaken to reverse this trend, such as the removal of
predators on colonies or the implementation of artificial burrows for shelter
against extreme weather events (Pichegru 2013).
One of the main factors behind
the decline in numbers is a lack of prey, owing to a recent shift over the past
decades in the distribution and abundance of their preferred prey, sardines and
anchovies (Crawford et al. 2015). This shift has resulted in competition with
the purse-seine fishery for the same resource pool of small pelagic fish,
especially around the penguin breeding colonies, to which adults must return in
order to feed their offspring regularly (Pichegru et al. 2012).
fishing industry is the largest fishery in South Africa in terms of landings
(>600 000 t annually, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
(DAFF), unpubl. data), contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product
(GDP), and conservation management decisions are traded off against human
livelihoods and jobs.
The African penguin, however, is the only penguin in
Africa and a major tourist attraction in South Africa (Lewis et al. 2012).
Unfortunately, there is limited information on direct income generated from
penguin-related tourism in South Africa and its contribution to the GDP,
particularly in the Eastern Cape.
This project will estimate the direct and
indirect contribution of African penguins to the national and provincial
economy in terms of direct revenues and job creation in order to inform
trade-offs in conservation-fishery management decisions.
Crawford, R.J.M., Altwegg, R., Barham,
B.J., Barham, P.J., Durant, J.M., Dyer, B.M., Makhado, A.B., Pichegru, L.,
Ryan, P.G., Underhill, L.G., Upfold, L., Visagie, J., Waller, L.J.,
Whittington, P.A., 2011. Collapse of South Africa’s penguins in the early 21st
century: a consideration of food availability. Afr. J. Mar. Sci. 33, 139-156.
Crawford, R.J.M., Makhado, A.B., Whittington, P.A., Randall, R.M., Oosthuizen,
W.H., Waller, L.J. (2015) A changing distribution of seabirds in Suth Africa –
the possible impact of climate and its consequences. Front. Ecol. Evol. (3),
Croxall, J.P., Butchart, S.H.M., Lascelles, B., Stattersfield, A.J.,
Sullivan, B., Symes A., Taylor, P. (2012). Seabird conservation status, threats
and priority actions: a global assessment. Bird Conserv. Inter. 22, 1-34.
Lewis, S.E.F., Turpie, J.K., Ryan, P.G. 2012. Are African penguins worth
saving? The ecotourism value of the Boulders Beach colony. Afr J Mar Sci
Pichegru, L. 2013. Increasing breeding success of an Endangered penguin:
artificial nests or culling predatory gulls? Bird Conserv. Inter. 23, 296-308
Pichegru, L., Ryan, P.G., van Eeden, R., Reid, T., Grémillet, D., Wanless, R.
2012. Industrial fishing, no-take zones and endangered penguins. Biol. Conserv.