Get right up close to one of the world’s few land-based colonies of the endangered African penguin at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, under 50km from Cape Town’s city centre. The colony inhabits three pristine beaches, and a penguin viewing area and wooden boardwalks allow you a fascinating and undisturbed perspective of these wonderful birds in their natural habitat.
The aquatic, flightless African penguin is listed as endangered. The story of the African penguins at Boulders Beach is a remarkable one of urban colonisation, beginning in 1983 when the first pair was spotted here. At the time False Bay was closed to commercial fishing, and abundant food and breeding sites meant the penguin population soon soared to 3 900 birds in 2005.
Since then (largely owing to environmental factors) there has been a decrease in numbers and by 2011 only about 2 100 birds remained. In a bid to curb the continued loss of chicks and provide a safe breeding environment, Boulders Coastal Park management has introduced artificial nesting boxes.
The beaches at Boulders are also ideal for young children as immense granite boulders shelter the coves from currents, wind and large waves, but please don’t touch or feed the penguins you’ll find on the beach with you – they may look cute and cuddly but their beaks are as sharp as razors and if they feel threatened they have no qualms about nipping the odd finger or nose.
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