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Don't harass the penguins


By Liz Clarke

If you are ever on Jeopardy and the final answer is: "A country in which one can see both lions AND penguins in their natural habitat," the correct question is: "What is South Africa?".

I wouldn't have known this had it not been for the 2010 World Cup, but I have seen BOTH on half-day excursions during my time here.

The lion-sighting came a few weeks back, at a Lion Park about an hour northwest of Johannesburg, where a group of us went on a tour and saw several prides of lions and had the magical experience of petting baby lion cubs.

The penguin-sighting was this morning--hundreds of them, in fact--at Boulders Bay, a breathtakingly beautiful penguin sanctuary at the base of Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula's coast, about an hour southeast of Cape Town.


What we saw were African Penguins (also known as Jackass Penguins because of their donkey-like braying). In fact, we saw an entire colony of African Penguins, which are smaller than the ones in the movies. And unlike the lion cubs we petted, they weren't all napping. Some were swimming and splashing among the waves. Others were sunning on rocks. Some waddled up and down the dunes. Some nested. And one scurried past with twigs in his beak, on his way to build something.

The African Penguins is considered a vulnerable species; its population has plunged from about 1.5 million in 1910 to 150,000 today, largely because of rampant harvesting of penguin eggs. It enjoys eating squid, anchovies and pilchards (a type of fish). The colony at Boulders Bay is thriving, about 3,000 strong, because the area is looked after by South Africa's Navy, based nearby. It also helps that the penguins' brushy environment is protected from tourists, who must walk along boardwalks constructed above the sand to watch and photograph them. And there are rules, spelled out on signs and in the brochure: No littering, no dogs, no collecting plants or shells, no smoking, no alcohol and no harassing of the penguins.

By Steve Goff  |  July 6, 2010; 9:16 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , South Africa  | Tags: 2010 World Cup, Cape Town, penguins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tuesday World Cup kickaround and poll
Next: Uruguay vs. Netherlands in World Cup 2010 semifinal


I would have gone with Madagascar as the Jeopardy answer, but I have two young children and my perspective is influenced by what they watch.

Did the penguins sing a Stevie Wonder song and dance?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | July 6, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The one in the middle looks like Jarmir Jagr.

OT: this is what happens when you try and make soccer your profession. Be warned, youth soccer coaches who prey on youth teams!

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | July 6, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I know steve is loving durban, but once again liz gets the better gig. Congrats, Liz. Hit Stellenbosch tomorrow to eat and drink yourself into a stupor. You'll wake up in time for the game.

Posted by: troy6 | July 6, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: csd1 | July 6, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Having visited Boulders Beach it's nice that they limit the amount of people at a given time. It has to be one the most stunning beaches and the penguins are like missiles in the water.

Posted by: Hockeynutter | July 6, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone eaten penguin? Does it taste like chicken, fish, or an Oreo?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | July 6, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Has anyone eaten penguin?"

Not yet, but if you do be careful and don't choke on the bow tie.

Posted by: csd1 | July 6, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"because of rampant harvesting of penguin eggs"

Actually Liz, the word "harvesting" is misused here as you can only harvest what you plant. These are wild penguins, not like chicken eggs which I suppose could be harvested. This is really a case of poaching. Yes, these are poached eggs.

As a conservationist, it irks me when the word harvest is used in reference to the hunting of fish and other sea creatures, too.

Posted by: WorldCup | July 6, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

“Anger is the harvest of the bewitching mind; it enslaves man and fogs his understanding.”

Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by: csd1 | July 6, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"A country in which one can see both lions AND penguins in their natural habitat"

Why no pics of of penguins fighting lions?

Posted by: neil_g | July 7, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

As a conservationist, it irks me when the word harvest is used in reference to the hunting of fish and other sea creatures, too.
Posted by: WorldCup

As a smart-a**, it irks me when someone objects to "harvesting" of eggs, but then writes "hunting of fish." It's called fishing.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | July 7, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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