More penguin peril

Life is hard if you’re a penguin.

If it’s not humans overfishing your pilchards and (allegedly) changing your climate, it’s large wild cats eating you on the beach. And if you survive them, you’ve got to look out for malaria and beagles. And whalers.

Nope. Being a penguin ain’t easy.

Now though, they face their latest, smallest but possibly biggest challenge yet. Viruses.

Because yes, penguins are birds, and birds get Avian Flu. This is the same H5N8 strain that has been affecting the Western Cape (and beyond) for several months now. I mentioned it back in August here.

We think about it affecting farms (which of course it does), but no-one ever considers wild birds, which – in the Western Cape – include penguins.

And while Boulders Beach – our most local (but not necessarily our best) penguin colony – will remain open for tourists, they will have to take precautions:

Visitors should change shoes and clothes if visiting poultry farms to prevent contamination from one site to another.

Which is important because the chicken farms just outside Robertson have really upped their tourist game recently, and it would be sad to waste all their effort.

Seriously though: fingers crossed that this doesn’t do a lot of lasting damage.

On the rocks


On the rocks, originally uploaded by Ballacorkish.

On the rocks in more ways than one.
I have been suffering with horrendous stomach ache today and it’s because of this that you’re only getting a quota photo this evening.
I am putting it down mainly to last night’s prawn madras: at least the combination of that and the beer and brandy.
Add to that the [few] hours sleep I managed and it’s a recipe for disaster.
The rest of the Boulders photos can be found here. And jolly nice some of them are, too.

More tomorrow, should I last that long.

Smelly penguins are a thing of the past

Here in the Cape, we’re lucky enough to have a couple of local colonies of the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) which one can pop along and visit, should one feel the need. Summer days are obviously nicest to spend in the sun, by the sea, getting up close and personal with these curious birds; with just one rather large drawback – the smell.

Penguins eat fish (which smells) and then they defaecate (which smells). It’s like smell². In short: penguins stink.

The penguins at Boulders Beach (so called because of the huge boulders there) and at Stony Point (so called because it’s all stony)* are a huge draw for the tourists, most of whom go home with a head full of wonderful memories, a camera full of wonderful photographs and a nose full of wonderfully fishy poo. Each time I go and visit Boulders, I am reminded of the need to do something about the dreadful whiff that greets me as I open the car door. And again when I arrive there.

But now I can, thanks to an offer from The Guardian in the UK. The UK isn’t known for its penguins, but there are, of course, several zoos and wildlife parks which have penguins in them. And I’m guessing that’s the market that The Guardian is trying to corner here, with the Penguin Steam Cleaner:

psc

They’ve even made it look a little bit penguinesque, so as not to frighten the birds on approach.

The Penguin Steam Cleaner features:

  • Continuous 1600 watt high-pressure (good for repeated penguin cleaning)
  • Steam exits at 105°C (bit warm, but penguins are well insulated)
  • Powerful jet nozzle, ideal for awkward spaces (beak, webbed feet, wingpits etc)
  • And it removes creased feathers. What more could you ask for?

    It’s expensive, but I reckon that the SanParks, who run Boulders, could get a better deal if they bought a job lot. After all – they have a whole load of penguins to clean.

    I will be pitching my idea to them later this week by getting one of these wonderful devices, “borrowing” a penguin and demonstrating the myriad of benefits a steam-cleaned penguin colony would bring to both their visitor numbers and their beleaguered olfactory systems.

    * I don’t make the rules.