Local Sanccob to close

THE Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in Cape St Francis will close its doors within the next three to six months.

“SANCCOB’s Board of Directors has made a difficult, but necessary, decision to close the SANCCOB Cape St Francis centre and operate from SANCCOB’s Port Elizabeth centre only,” says SANCCOB Chief Executive Officer Dr Stephen van der Spuy.

“It was certainly not an easy conclusion to reach, since the Cape St Francis and Jeffreys Bay communities have participated in penguin rehabilitation for the past 30 years.”

According to Van der Spuy, it is in the best interest of the seabirds that SANCCOB operates from one state-of-the-art facility in the area, rather than sharing resources that are challenging to secure for an organisation that is completely reliant on donor funding.

SANCCOB acquired the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) facility in April 2017 when the trustees handed over their operations and facilities.

“It is truly a privilege and an incredible opportunity to have been entrusted with this facility, now known as SANCCOB PE. The facility is situated close to multiple seabird colonies, including the largest African penguin and Cape gannet colonies on St Croix and Bird islands, respectively, and is therefore ideally placed to effectively carry out SANCCOB’s mandate in Southern Africa,” says Van der Spuy. “The existing infrastructure and size are also better suited to facilitate our specialised veterinary and seabird rehabilitation care.”

All SANCCOB CSF’s birds – permanent and wild seabirds in rehabilitation – will be transferred to SANCCOB PE. “We estimate a three to six month period ahead before the Cape St Francis centre is completely vacated and our Port Elizabeth centre will field all seabird emergency calls,” Van der Spuy says.

While SANCCOB will no longer operate in the immediate vicinity of local volunteers; there remains a need for First Responders. These volunteering First Responders play an integral role, as being the first call-out to respond to seabirds in distress and then provide critical care until the birds are admitted to SANCCOB.

Members of the surrounding communities are invited to join them as First Responders.

“We commend the staff, volunteers, First Responders and community members, who have worked tirelessly and supported SANCCOB over the years. As we continue our conservation efforts going forward, we will remain in awe of the sheer devotion of those in the surrounds of the Cape St Francis facility, who have raised funds for SANCCOB, rescued, washed, rehabilitated, fed and saved seabirds. We look forward to your continued support,” says Van der Spuy.

SANCCOB PE can be contacted at 041 583 1830 or 082 890 0207 (after hours).