2000 Cape Cormorants are being prepared for release back into the wild after being rescued from a mass-abandonment on Robben Island earlier this year.
Table View, South Africa (30 March 2021) – It has been two months since SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) jumped into action to save a flock of abandoned Cape Cormorant chicks on Robben Island.
When we reported the story initially, we said it was only 128 chicks, but this number quickly grew to an almost overwhelming 2000. The organisation shared that this rescue is the second-largest they have ever undertaken, the first being the MV Treasure oil spill in 2000.
The biggest challenge has been their laundry, and it’s an easy thing for people to help with. You can take clean towels to the facility and collect a few of their dirty ones to wash. It can be a good deed washing cycle.
They are now preparing for the release of the 2000 birds as they have grown to a stage in life where they will be able to fend for themselves.
SANCCOB confirmed their plans on the 20th of March, saying they are grading the birds on their readiness level and will gradually release them in groups of 40 to 100 birds.
“We are excited to share that we’re releasing the Cape cormorants rescued from Robben Island back to the wild. In the weeks ahead the birds will be regularly graded for release readiness & groups of 40 to 100 are to be placed in a temporary aviary built on the Island as we carry out a soft release process. The birds are contained for 48 hours and fed twice a day before opening the gates for them to slowly integrate with wild cormorants.
Once released, food is provided near the enclosure for as long as supplementary feeding is required. This is considered the best option as Cape cormorants normally provide extended parental care to their young, even after they have fledged. The time in the aviary will allow the hand-reared birds to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
Released birds are equipped with metal rings and a subset are individually marked with colour bands for easier identification. Ring resightings can be reported to SAFRING and SANCCOB, and we encourage our birding communities and general public to keep an eye out for ringed Cape cormorants along the Western Cape coastline.” – SANCCOB, Table View.
While they work on this gradual release plan, the organisation will still need help from volunteers. You can read more about volunteering to help with the Cape Cormorant chicks here.