There's no doubt that the biggest threat to penguins are humans. From destroying habitats to spilling oil, we do not make life easy for these resilient birds. We don't always cause problems though and right now hundreds of abandoned penguin chicks are being collected on the beaches South Africa in need of rescuing. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) plans to admit roughly 500 penguin chicks between now and February in response to adult penguins beginning their annual molt before their chicks are self-sustaining.
For three to four weeks many adult penguins replace their feathers leaving them unable to hunt for fish and feed their young. As a result, the chicks that have yet to fledge are abandoned and face starvation unless conservation organizations like SANCCOB step in. Right now, hundreds of abandoned penguin chicks are flooding in in need of human intervention to survive.
Abandoned chicks are being brought from the colonies to SANCCOB for rehabilitation and release back into the wild. Once at the centers, these chicks are being taught to swim, fed 'fish smoothies' and taken care of by the dedicated staff and volunteers who work round the clock to ensure that they get released back into the wild. The rehabilitation program can take anything from 6 weeks to 3 months depending on their size and condition. Once they are at a fledging age, the correct weight, healthy and their feathers are waterproof, they receive the final nod of approval and get released back into the wild.
Without intervention, these chicks would not survive. The African penguin population is only 2% of what it once was. SANCCOB allows adoptions of their chicks to help pay for their significant rehabilitation and release costs. Visit SANCCOB for more info.