I wanted to see African Penguins while I was in South Africa but I didn’t fancy battling through the crowds to get to Boulders Beach. So the Stony Point Sanctuary, at Betty’s Bay on the Garden Route, was a logical alternative. Thousands of penguins, spectacular scenery and only a handful of other visitors. What more could we ask for?
African Penguins: An Endangered Species
The sanctuary is set in an old whaling station and the first thing we noticed was the smell: 2000 pairs of penguins can produce a lot of guano! But we quickly got used to it and paid our R10 to enter the boardwalk area where we could look down at the birds. From here we could read the information boards, watch the penguins coming and going, and listen to the waves crashing onto the rocks below.
Shelters have been built to encourage the penguins to breed
African penguins have become endangered over the last century, their numbers reduced by oil spillage, over-fishing and competition for food from an expanding population of fur seals. Stony Point was established as a colony to encourage breeding, with a protected area and specially constructed breeding boxes. The policy has been successful and the number of birds has increased: this is one of very few places where African penguins will breed on‑shore.
The Varied Wildlife of Stony Point
But Stony Point is not just about penguins. There are four different types of cormorant to spot and tiny lizards dart between the rocks.
Cormorants cluster around the old whaling lookout tower at Stony Point
A girdled lizard sits astride a rock
Then there are the dassies (properly known as the rock hydrax). Surprisingly, this inquisitive and furry creature is the only known relative of the elephant.
A friendly (and inquisitive) rock hydrax
With so much natural life around us it seemed as if we, the humans, were the interlopers. We took a last look at the penguins and the sea and turned away, leaving the penguins to enjoy their sanctuary in peace.