Cape Town protects its penguins

Cape Town penguins shielded from dogs and general public.

Recent measures to protect African penguins at key areas in Cape Town are yielding satisfactory results, according to the city's environmental department.

Since August dogs have been banned between Burghers’ Walk and Links Crescent in the Simon's Town district, after several African penguins were killed, while a monitoring system has been in place since 1 November to ensure the flightless birds are not attacked by dogs or disturbed by humans.

The stricter management of penguins comes after conservationalists warned that if authorities failed to act then the birds could face extinction.

Officials will continue to monitor the area on a full-time basis until 31 January and dogs are required to be kept on leads along Burgher's Walk. The sandy stretch of Windmill Beach remains open to dogs off the leash.

The city says that since the introduction of the additional measures 109 penguin nests were counted in the Burghers’ Walk area, out of a total of 982 nests in Cape Town.

Hailing the cooperation of dog walkers, the city's environmental department says that there have been no further fatalities in the areas under greater protection, adding that the penguins' survival in an urban environment requires a "joint effort."

The population of African Penguins has dropped by 90 per cent since 2004, with only 100,000 of the birds left in South Africa and neighbouring Namibia, the only two countries where the species exists.

Currently classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the total number of African Penguins is estimated to be just 2.5 per cent of its population level eight decades ago.