The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the Black-footed Penguin (and formerly as the Jackass Penguin), can be found on the mainland at Betty’s Bay and on Dyer Island near Gansbaai. There is a platform for viewing the Penguins at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay and boat charters take trips to Dyer Island from Gansbaai to view the breeding colony of African Penguins there.
The African Penguin is endemic to Southern Africa. Numbers of adult penguins have dropped dramatically from 1.5 million adults in 1930s to 160 000 in the 1990s. In the late 1970s, Dyer had the largest colony of African Penguins in the world, about 70 000. By 2000, this figure had dropped to about 3500, making Dyer Island the 6th largest colony of African Penguins.
Reasons for this decline include egg exploitation, as well as Guano collection which occurred during the 1950s to about 1983. Reduced availability of food, seal predation, chronic oil pollution and emigration to other colonies have also contributed to this decrease. Currently, the largest colonies of African Penguins are found at Dassen and Robben Islands. Both these islands are situated close to harbours and shipping lanes, where the threat of large oil spills is significant. Protecting penguin colonies elsewhere is therefore crucial.
One way of doing this is by sponsoring a Penguin Nest!