Impact of flipper-banding on breeding success of African penguins Spheniscus demersus at Robben Island: comparisons among silicone rubber bands, stainless-steel bands and no bands
AbstractFrom 2001 to 2006, two new designs of flipper bands made from silicone rubbers were tested on African penguins Spheniscus demersus at 365 nests on Robben Island, South Africa. We compared, over six years, the breeding success, from hatching to fledging, of three different groups of penguins: those with rubber bands (117 nests), with conventional stainless-steel bands (103 nests) and without bands (145 nests). There were no significant differences in breeding success between the three groups, suggesting that neither the currently used steel bands, nor either of the new rubber-band designs, were harmful during the seasons investigated. The rubber bands caused less wear of feathers and less drag on a model penguin than the steel bands. In captivity, the behaviours of African penguins fitted with rubber bands were not noticeably different to those of unbanded birds.
Keywords: African penguin; behaviour; effects of flipper-banding; drag; fledging success; silicone rubber; Spheniscus demersus; stainless steel
African Journal of Marine Science 2008, 30(3): 595–602