Conservation Planning for the Translocation of African Penguins

In honor of Penguin Awareness Day, we look back on our conservation planning work with penguins, spanning from 1992 to today.

CBSG has been involved in conservation planning for penguins since 1992, beginning with a Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) workshop, where 17 penguin species were assessed to determine their vulnerability to extinction and give recommendations for their conservation. The workshop participants found the results of the workshop alarming: at that time, of all the penguin species, only those in the Antarctic did not seem to be facing grave, documented declines or other problems that put them at serious risk.


As part of the follow-up on recommendations from the CAMP, CBSG facilitated Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) workshops for the Humboldt penguin in Chile and for the African penguin. Participants at the two PHVA workshops suggested a fourth penguin workshop, which took place in 2000, to address the commonalties among all four Spheniscus species (Humboldt, African, Galápagos and Magellanic) and to develop a collaborative conservation strategy for the group as a whole.

CBSG Southern Africa continues to be involved in ongoing work with African penguins. The status of the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) in the wild continues to deteriorate, and it is quickly becoming a key species in the work of CBSG Southern Africa.


Earlier this year, CBSG Southern Africa completed and published the Risk Assessment for the Conservation Translocation of African Penguins advancing the likelihood of large-scale conservation translocation. Conservation translocation represents just one of many tools to assist in the conservation of the African Penguin, complimentary to other actions such as colony protection, fish stock management, and ex situ breeding. Subsequently, modeling has been taking place to predict the target numbers of translocated African penguins required to have a significant conservation impact on the population. The results of these models will help inform the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria conservation breeding program (APP) of the required numbers of birds. Work has already started on the production of Conservation Translocation Guidelines for the African Penguin, which will be facilitated and edited by CBSG Southern Africa and is hoped to be completed early in 2015.


Photos by Mike Jordan