Post-release survival of rehabilitated African penguins

  • Published source details Whittington P.A. (2003) Post-release survival of rehabilitated African penguins. Pages 8-17 in: D.C. Nel & P.A. Whittington (eds.) Rehabilitation of oiled African Penguins: a conservation success story. Birdlife South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Cape Town.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Artificially incubate and hand-rear penguins in captivity

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Clean birds following oil spills

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Artificially incubate and hand-rear penguins in captivity

    A replicated study in the Western Cape, South Africa, in 1994-9 (Whittington 2003), found that orphaned African penguins Spheniscus demersus that were hand-reared and released had similar survival and breeding probabilities as naturally-fledged chicks (11% of 437 hand-reared chicks seen at colonies, 1% breeding, 2% found dead vs. 9%, 1% and 1% of 399 naturally-fledged chicks). Of 507 chicks that were hand-reared, 437 (86%) were successfully released into the wild. Survival of rehabilitated adults is discussed in ‘Clean birds following oil spills’ in ‘Threat: Pollution’.


  2. Clean birds following oil spills

    A replicated, controlled study in the Western Cape, South Africa, in 1994-9 (Whittington 2003), found that average annual survival of African penguins Spheniscus demersus that were oiled, cleaned and released following four oil spills birds was estimated at 79%, compared with 81% for non-oiled birds, a non-significant difference. Between 40 and 87% of rehabilitated birds were recorded back at their breeding colonies after being released (with between 101 and 2,962 birds rehabilitated each time). The low number of birds  recorded for one spill (40% after four years) may have been due to penguins being found a long way from their colonies and therefore released in an inappropriate place (72% of birds that were seen were recorded at a different colony). This study also discusses the survival of hand-reared penguins, orphaned by oil spills, described in ‘Artificially incubate and hand-rear birds in captivity’.


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