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Cape Town Bird Rescue Group Nurses Endangered Chicks to Health

Overfishing is leading cormorants to abandon their chicks.   -  
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Wilson Ring/Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu

South Africa

Endangered and Abandoned Coromorant Chicks

In the coastal city of Cape Town, hundreds of abandoned Cape Cormorant chicks wait expectantly to be fed at the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) — where rescuing these endangered animals has been a delicate operation after their parents rejected them last month.

Around 2,000 were shipped to the mainland via boat after being found starving with over 800 succumbing to weakness and dehydration during the trip.

Nicky Stander, the Preparedness and Response Manager at SANCCOB, shares details about the recent endeavour.

"So, we rescued 1,800 Cape cormorant chicks from Robben Island. That was on the 12th and 13th of January. And going forward, we will probably start looking at releasing the bigger birds in the next three weeks hopefully and the smaller birds will obviously be here in the next two to three months."

A Detailed and Dedicated Regional Operation

South Africa's largest seabird rescue service usually treats around 2,000 animals per year at its dedicated hospital. And between 30 and 50 volunteers show up each day to feed, weigh and clean the orphaned chicks.

Stander shares some of the running fears among the regional environmentalists.

"What we are scared of is that this is going to happen more and more in the future. If they are not finding that fish in the wild, what's going to happen? They are going to either stop breeding or if they do breed, they just going to abandon if they are not finding enough food. The knock-on effect of that is that the population continues to decline until they become extinct."

Stander cautions against overfishing. Nevertheless, The chicks — frail on arrival, are expected to grow into healthy adults to be released once their plumage waterproof feathers come for a second chance at life.

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