The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) Seabird Rehabilitation Centre has said that it is struggling to stay buoyant as the lack of visitors has resulted in a drastic loss of income.
According to SANCCOB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stephen van der Spuy, the foundation was largely dependent on income generated through guided tours and school lessons at both centres in Table View and Port Elizabeth and from shop sales on-site and that the lockdown in effect from March 26, 2020 had placed a complete halt on this income.
“As a non-profit organisation that is completely reliant on donations to enable our work, the effects of COVID-19 have already been revealed in the immediate decrease in funding from those who are also in lockdown on the North American and European continents; 36% of our annual income is derived from these continents,” he added.
Dr. Spuy also expressed that even though at the Table View centre, they had the had assistance of remaining international volunteers who chose to stay in South Africa and local volunteers as well as an administration staff holding the fort at full capacity from home, in Port Elizabeth they had been without volunteers since mid-March, with four staff members taking care of 34 African penguins undergoing rehabilitation and more than 50 permanent resident birds.
“Despite having only core staff on site for day to day operations, we have still been able to release birds back to the wild every week, including some long-term cases that had recovered from broken legs,” said the Doctor.
He further said that their major concern was that seabirds in need of rescue were perhaps not being found due to the closure of beaches.
“We have, however, responded to calls of seabirds in urban areas and continued to assist our conservation partners in transporting injured or sick seabirds from the mainland colonies to SANCCOB,” he said.