People leaving in Cape Town’s Boulder’s beach and surrounding areas are up in arms, after thousands of penguins “invaded” residential areas and are causing destruction.
The area is famous for being one of the best places to spot the African Penguin and a nature reserve in the area provides a safe haven for the endangered species, protecting the birds from the effects of human settlement, commercial activities and pollution.
Residents, however, are now blaming an increased invasion of penguins on poor infrastructure. A fence built to restrain the birds from wandering inland has not been maintained for many years and is not large enough to contain them.
They say the fence is also full of holes.
In Betty’s Bay, 100km from Cape Town, 70-year-old Barbara Wallers pointing to her garden said, “Look what they have done to the bushes here; they have killed all the garden.”
Wallers, who has lived in Betty Bay since 1947 said she was used to seeing the occasional penguin in her garden, but they have increased in the last two years, leaving droppings and making a lot of noise.
“The stench, which stinks like hell, which is a health hazard, I get terrible hay fever, sore eyes, ecetera,ecetera. Then we have got all the guano and the feathers and when the wind blows we get all this bloody black rubbish in our house, and the noise at night is unreal…they bellow and bellow and bellow, I did not sleep last night from 3.45am the other morning,” she said.
Like Wallers, many other residents complain that the birds have become a nuisance and are worried about their health, especially when the birds start breeding.
But, according to the South African Foundation for the Conservation for Coastal Birds or SANNCOB, the African penguin population has decreased by 90 per cent in the the last century, and is mainly threatened by human settlements, commercial over-fishing and pollution.
“It’s a real sadness because there should be a co-existence between the penguins and the people. I think there are many people in Betty’s Bay that absolutely adore the penguins, so I think it would be wonderful if the organisations that manage them which is Cape Nature Reserve and Overstrand (Municipality) and the people of Betty’s Bay can take hands and this thing can quietly be resolved,” said Margaret Roestorf, Executive Director of the South African Foundation for the Conservation for Coastal Birds.
Local authorities say they are already working on plans to extend the fence in the coming months, to prevent penguins from reaching people’s homes.