Patterns of movements of the African penguin in South Africa and Namibia

  • P A Whittington Formerly Avian Demography Unit, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa; now Department of Zoology, PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
  • R M Randall South African National Parks, PO Box 176, Sedgefield 6573, South Africa
  • B M Randall PO Box 853, Sedgefield 6573, South Africa
  • A C Wolfaardt Western Cape Nature Conservation Board, Private Bag X5014, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
  • R JM Crawford Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay 8012, South Africa
  • N TW Klages Institute for Environmental and Coastal Management, PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
  • P A Bartlett Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, PO Box 394, Lüderitz, Namibia
  • Y J Chesselet Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, PO Box 394, Lüderitz, Namibia
  • R Jones Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, PO Box 394, Lüderitz, Namibia
Keywords: African penguin, distance travelled, movements, region, rehabilitated

Abstract

The direction, distance and seasonal patterns of movements of African penguins Speniscus demersus between breeding colonies were investigated for birds that had been flipper-banded between 1970 and 1998. These were comprised of 3 986 penguins banded as chicks at nests, 1 672 banded as adult birds at breeding colonies and 4 691 adult penguins that had been oiled, sick or injured and subsequently rehabilitated. An analysis of observations of flipper-banded penguins in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa and in Namibia, showed that 35% of birds banded as chicks and 9% of those banded as adults had visited mainland sites or breeding colonies, other than the bird's own natal or breeding colony. Penguins banded as chicks at Eastern Cape colonies and sighted within two years of banding exhibited a marked clockwise movement around the coast. Penguins from all regions that had been banded as chicks and subsequently found dead also showed a clockwise pattern of movements, whereas live resightings of birds banded as chicks in the Western Cape or at Namibian colonies did not reveal a significant directional trend in their movements. Penguins banded as adults at Eastern Cape colonies moved in a clockwise direction around the coast but there was no obvious pattern shown by adults banded at colonies in the other regions or of rehabilitated birds. Most re-sightings of penguins banded as chicks were made in spring or summer, but there was no seasonal pattern associated with the re-sightings of penguins banded as adults. Distances travelled by penguins banded as chicks averaged greater than for those banded as adults. Juvenile birds usually return to their natal colony, but it is evident that some young birds have the capacity to settle and breed at non-natal colonies.

African Journal of Marine Science 2005, 27(1): 215–229
Published
2005-06-30
Section
Articles

eISSN: 1814-2338