SANCCOB Saving our Seabirds with one Remarkable Decision

SANCCOB, a registered non-profit organisation (NPO 003-134) exists purely because of one person’s decision. Behind this decision is a lot more than a simple “I will do this”. What stands behind SANCCOB and what do they do for the environment and communities?SANCCOB

The woman who started it all

Althea Louise Burman Westphal

Althea Louise Burman Westphal was a remarkable woman who saw a need and acted upon it. After the Esso Essen oil spill, the SPCA didn’t have the necessary facility to take care of all the oiled penguins. Instead of feeling sorry for the penguins, Althea made the decision to create a temporary station at her home. Here she took in 60 oiled penguins.

With a survival possibility of 50/50, she kept fighting alongside the penguins by feeding them strips of hake that was dipped in cooking oil. To clean them, she scrubbed them in sunlight soap while rinsing them with a hose. She took great care to look after them as she leveled up their pool from a wooden trailer to a stainless steel dye vat. Further there was at least three visits per week to Blaauberg to allow the penguins an hour swim in the tidal pool.

However, Althea didn’t stop there. She cared whether the penguins had the best life possible under her care. She research the “Jackass penguin”. This research helped her understand what these penguins needed in regards to their lifestyle and diet.

With her persuasion skills and the sheer amount of concern people had for the penguins, Dr Roy Siegfried of PFPI, the SA Army and the caring individuals found SANCCOB. She put decades of hard work into the now internationally recognised organisation. She was indeed a dedicated person with a deep love for helping animals in need.


The six part SANCCOB action plan

SANCCOB’s main purpose is to reverse the decline of seabird population. Although they pay attention to all seabirds, they do have a special place in their time and hearts for the endangered species, such as the African penguin. For SANCCOB to reach their goal, they have six methods they employ. They are:

  • Rescue: They rescue injured or oiled birds, and abandoned chicks.
  • Rehabilitation: They rehabilitate around 2500 seabirds yearly, making them internationally recognised as a leader in the field.
  • Chick rearing: Any abandoned chicks and eggs are raised and eventually released back into the wild.
  • Education: They have plenty of amazing educational presentations, lessons and encounters for the young and old.
  • Training: They offer internships, a zoo and aquarium keeper exchange programme and veterinary experience courses.
  • Research: Their research helps understanding the behaviour and needs for a longer lifespan for the seabirds.

SANCCOB has been working hard from the 1960’s because of one woman’s decision made not because of her extensive knowledge, but because of her heart. If you feel you want to play a part in SANCCOB’s work, you can find out more on their website.

Art and conservation meets one at VERGE exhibition (10 – 30 November). If you buy an artwork sold at the exhibition, a percentage of that sale will go to SANCCOB and a few other organisations. For more information, visit VERGE’s website here.