It’s volunteer appreciation day at SANCCOB today! The staff honored all of the people who donate their time to help carry out its important mission. They did so by hosting an afternoon braai, or a South African barbecue. At the event both the volunteer coordinator and the director spoke to express their appreciation to the volunteers who come from near and far; recognizing the importance of the support of the “amazing volunteer base” in achieving the successes of the organization. In total, there are about 150 volunteers that come to SANCCOB each year-approximately 100 of those hail from different countries around the world. The typical commitment for these volunteers is about six weeks. Many of the volunteers indicated that simply find the information about SANCCOB online and jump at the opportunity to help rescue and rehabilitate sea birds. It’s people like this who allow the staff to focus on the more critical needs of the birds.
Some perfect examples of more critical patients that SANCCOB receives actually arrived today, making an already busy day even busier! I am happy to be at a point now where I, along with other volunteers, could be more useful in the pens while the rehabilitators focus on their new admits. The first one, a kelp gull, arrived during the morning routine. It was brought into the center with 100% of its body covered in oil. Oil is extremely harmful for sea birds and is often lethal for animals if it goes untreated too long. It takes several washes and vigorous scrubbings to remove the oil so the gull will be staying at SANCCOB for a few days while being cleaned and its health is evaluated.
Another case arrived right after the braai this afternoon. An adult African penguin was brought in to the center with a very large wound on the back of its head and neck. African penguins are faced with many predators in South Africa both on land and in the water. These animals include seals, sharks, and orcas as well as flighted birds and small terrestrial mammals like mongoose. SANCCOB has even reported some predation of certain penguin colonies by large cats such as leopards and caracals. Thought to be caused by a cape fur seal bite, the newest penguin patient suffered an extremely deep laceration and much of the connective tissue on the back of his head and neck were torn. I was able to observe a few minutes of the veterinary team in action as they performed the surgical procedure to suture the wounds. The penguin has made it out of the surgery and is recovering well so far!