Sod turning ceremony in aid of the endangered African Penguin

On the 19th of August a group of high level individuals passionate about conservation, gathered at the Birkenhead Lodge grounds at Gansbaai in the Western Cape, to launch a significant partnership aimed at providing a sanctuary for the endangered African Penguin and Seabirds.

“The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) will be dedicated to the unconditional welfare of distressed seabirds in the Overstrand region,” said Wilfred Chivell of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), “and words cannot express how grateful we are for the support of our donors which have made today possible.”

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust is driving the establishment of the rehab centre supported by Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA), Wildlands, Grindrod Bank and the Blue Fund.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust has expressed a desperate need for a rehab centre. “Currently any birds found injured are sent to SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birdsin Cape Town where they are rehabilitated and then released in the Cape Town area,” said Civell of DICT. “SANCCOB do a fantastic job however, it is a fair distance away from Dyer Island and results in unnecessary stress for the birds as well as difficulty in finding their home colony due to the distance on release.”

Land has already been purchased and DICT have received funding from VW for infrastructure. The next step is a laboratory, an education centre, equipment and specialised flooring.

“Our funding of the APSS is the continuation of our long standing partnership and a commitment to continuously support the great work of DICT in conserving our Marine Big 5 – African penguins, great white shark, seals, dolphins and whales. The partnership with DICT forms part of our Think Blue initiatives which aim to support organisations that are involved in environment sustainability programmes,” said David Powels, Managing Director: Volkswagen Group South Africa.

“We are delighted to expand our sponsorship of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, now in its fourth year. One of the key strategic objectives of the Think Blue brand is to position Volkswagen as a company with meaning and impact through activities with various community and environmental partners and this partnership does just this.” said Bridget Harpur, Brand Manager at VWSA.

“Grindrod has its roots in the maritime industry and with this comes an intense understanding of the environmental issues that pose a threat to communities in general,” said David Polkinghorne, MD of Grindrod Bank Limited. “Grindrod Bank and Grindrod Financial Services have an active interest in transforming and enriching South Africa, and as such have created The Blue Fund which is proud to be associated with a project such as APSS,” said Polkinghorne.

The Blue Fund is a strategic partnership between Grindrod Financial Services and Wildlands Conservation Trust and has been created with a focus on the sustainable development of coastal communities and conservation of coastal marine ecosystems.

“Wildlands have always been driven by a vision to transform and uplift communities and the environment,” said Wildlands CEO Dr Andrew Venter. “When we were approached by Grindrod with the idea to develop The Blue Fund the synergy with the sustainability work we already implement across the country could not be ignored, and we decided the Blue Fund was a perfect fit for us.”

The Blue Fund is also offering support to two projects driven by WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa), namely, the Blue Flag Beach Drive on the KZN Coast and their Port St Johns Crafter Product Development and Support in the Eastern Cape.