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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Relocate birds following oil spills Bird Conservation

Key messages

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A replicated study in South Africa found that a higher percentage of African penguins Spheniscus demersus that were relocated following an oil spill bred at their old colonies, compared to birds which were rehabilitated after being oiled, despite fewer relocated birds being seen at their home colony.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated trial following the Treasure oil spill in 2000 between Robben and Dassen Islands, Western Cape, South Africa (Wolfaardt & Nel 2003), found that 62% of 1,130 African penguins Spheniscus demersus that were moved 800 km east and released were recorded on Dassen Island, two years after the event, with 41% breeding. This compared with a higher number of rehabilitated (oiled, cleaned and released) birds being seen (75% of 2,744), but fewer breeding (17%). Relocated birds began arriving at Dassen Island 11 days after being released, with most arriving 18 days or so after relocation. In total, 19,500 birds were relocated. This study is also discussed in ‘Clean birds following oil spills’.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.