JOHANNESBURG - 1,700 Cape cormorant chicks abandoned on Robben Island have been rescued but sadly, many of them did not survive.
The rescued chicks are now in the care of the SA Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob), which is giving them a second chance.
The birds were rescued after seabird rangers stationed there, noticed that their parents had abandoned them.
A major rescue operation ensured the baby birds were brought to Sanccob’s rehabilitation centre to be cared for.
Sanccob Preparedness and Response Manager Nicky Stander said, “the last thing we wanted to do was to remove the chicks and the parents return, however, it was incredibly hot, the chick has heat stress and also they were predated on so we had to act quickly. The consensus was that we had to remove the birds. It has happened in the past that Cape Cormorants have abandoned their chicks and they don't return.”
The chicks were in a poor condition on arrival.
But thanks to the team of Sanccob staff and volunteers, they’re getting stronger every day and will be released back into their natural habitat after a three-month rehabilitation process.
Animal behaviourist volunteer Sikhona Ncube said, "for me, it’s mostly the greatest experience. You know, going home, knowing that you've actually done something for conservation, its the best feeling ever.”
Tina Kleinhans said, "personally I’ve always loved animals and you see for yourselves we all need help, we need the hands so for me, 14-hour shifts meaning nothing, it’s so worth it being here helping the birds, helping the people.”
Sanccob said it still needs plenty of extra hands.
Stander said, "what we're finding, is that we asking more volunteers to come forward, but due to COVID restrictions and people being cautious which is totally understandable we’re simply not seeing the response we normally would."
"If people can come for only a few hours to do laundry or to shop some fish, they do not have to commit to a full shift but we certainly need more volunteers."