Seabird Rescue

Sanccob saves seabirds.

I couldn’t think of a more apt or concise tagline for an organisation that does just that.

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, or Sanccob as its better known, is a non-profit organisation that conserves seabirds and other sea life, specifically the threatened African penguin, through hands on intervention and rehabilitation.

Based at the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve in South Africa’s Table View, and with a smaller centre at Cape St Francis, they’ve been making a difference since their humble beginnings in a private home in reaction to an oil spill in 1968.

Over the decades, Sanccob has saved as many as 90 000 seabirds.

Penguin at Boulders Beach. Image by Dawn Jorgensen.

Penguin at Boulders Beach. Image by Dawn Jorgensen.

Their expertise lies in oiled wildlife response, rehabilitation and chick rearing as they constantly contribute to research that benefits seabirds while training people to care for them.

Their specific focus is the African penguin, which has seen a steady decline in population over the years, with only 18 000 breeding pairs left in the world, which, to put it into perspective, is less than the amount of people at the average test rugby match. Actually, Sanccob is credited with the population being 19% higher than it would have been without intervention.

Volunteers play an important role in the operation, from the local South African wanting to learn and make a difference, to internationals who opt to spend four to six weeks working with the birds.

One of their primary sources of revenue is the Adopt a Bird program, which allows you to either adopt a resident penguin for R1 000 or to adopt and name an African penguin, which will be released back into the wild, for R500.

Both centres are open on weekdays and you can visit and take a guided tour, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the facilities with a walk through the preparation area, wash bay, intensive-care unit and outside bird pens.

For more details and contact numbers, as well as info on how you can support them, see their website. You also now know who to call should you come across a seabird in distress.

Volunteers at the Penguin release in Bettys Bay. Image by Dawn Jorgensen.

Volunteers at the Penguin release in Betty’s Bay. Image by Dawn Jorgensen.

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