The Penguin Conservation Centre (PCC) was
founded in November 1968 to care for ill, injured and oiled seabirds. In
its long history, PCC has handled an overwhelming influx of birds into the
Centre and responded to every major oil spill along the South African
coast. To date, PCC has treated over 83,000 seabirds.
Conservation Centre is best known
for its success in rehabilitating oiled African Penguins. Due to the
exploitation of guano and penguin eggs and the depletion of fish
resources, their numbers have dropped by a frightening 90% in the past
century. In recent years, oil spills have threatened to decimate the
relatively few survivors that remain. Since African penguins are flightless and live in close-knit colonies, a single
oil spill can be devastating.
Conservation Centre has pioneered
and refined many oiled seabird rehabilitation procedures and is now a
world leader in this field, achieving survival rates that are exceptional
by international standards. Recent research by scientists at the
University of Cape Town’s Avian Demography Unit (ADU) indicates that the
African Penguin population is 19% higher today than what it would have
been in the absence of PCC’s efforts.
Despite their highly dedicated, professional team of 10 permanent staff,
the Centre is barely able to handle
the large numbers of birds which arrive everyday. PCC treated 817
penguins in 2001, 977 penguins in 2002, 1,052 penguins in 2003, 655
penguins in 2004, 951 penguins in 2005, 1,301 penguins in 2006 and 896
penguins in 2007. Their conservation efforts continue 365 days each year due to the
fact that increasing numbers of our vulnerable seabird species require
rehabilitation year round.
With opportunities to take part in regular
boat release programmes at Robben Island and exposure to a variety of local
seabirds, the Penguin Conservation Centre is an immensely enjoyable and rewarding environment for
As well as learning about the life-cycle
and conservation of the African penguin, which is still an endangered
species, volunteers are also very “hands-on,” being taught how to catch, hold,
feed and tube feed these wonderful birds - each with their own individual
characters. You will care for the weak, the strong, the cheeky and the
just plain daft, and when the sun is high you will probably find yourself
longing to join them in the pool too! Volunteers are also involved in a
variety of daily tasks, including the
preparation of fish, cleaning the pens, pools and mats, sterilizing
syringes and more. Be warned, as cute as they are, penguins will bite
given the opportunity. The training you will receive, together with the
protective clothing provided by PCC, will allow you to handle these
Conservation Centre prides itself on
its very positive working environment and strives for everyone, permanent and
voluntary, to feel like a part of the family. PCC offers
7 volunteer training modules, which cover all aspects of the Centre’s activities including handling, washing and hand-raising seabirds.
Volunteers will work up to five days a week (8am – 5pm) with some
weekends. PCC’s volunteer co-ordinator will arrange
your schedule in advance.
The Centre is located on the banks of
Flamingo Vlei in Cape Town with wonderful views of Table Mountain.
Recently ranked 5th on a list of ‘must see’ places in the world, Cape
Town is definitely South Africa’s most beautiful and popular city. In your
spare time from PCC, you can enjoy an amazing variety of Cape Town
• Visiting nearby popular beaches such as Blouberg and
• Hiking or taking the cable car up Table
• Touring the Cape Winelands, Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope
• Boating to Robben Island, and taking a tour of the island, prison and cell that was home to Nelson
Mandela for nearly two decades
• Taking a tour to a local township
• Watching rugby/cricket at Sahara Park Newlands Stadium
•Testing your adrenalin with sky diving, paragliding and abseiling from
The Penguin team accept volunteers of 16+
years of age. Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when
accompanied by a parent/guardian. There isn't a maximum age limit,
though a reasonable fitness level is necessary.
Field Conditions / Costs
have a choice of accommodation in Table View - you can either stay at the
Elements Guesthouse or in the
family home of Cheryl Campbell who runs the Penguin Chick Satellite
1: ELEMENTS GUESTHOUSE
The total cost for OPTION 1 is GB£795 / US$1395 for 6 weeks, including
dorm accommodation, donation to the project, cleaning 3x per week, change
of linen 1x per week, and 1 bag of laundry 1x per week.
will be accommodated at a guesthouse within a short walk to Blouberg
Beach. The accommodation is very well equipped with a large TV lounge,
satellite TV, entertainment and braai area (bbq!), large pool and full
kitchen facilities. You will also be close to the Bayside shopping mall,
which is located mid-way between the guesthouse and the Centre. The
mall has internet cafes, 6-screen cinema, post office, foreign exchange,
banks, cafes, supermarkets, department stores, etc.
meals are provided so you will need to budget for this - you can either
buy groceries and cook in the guesthouse kitchen or eat out/take away from
one of the nearby restaurants or bars. This accommodation will suit
more independent volunteers who prefer to be closer to the beach.
The Centre is only a 20-minute walk from the guesthouse.
are traveling as a couple, or would prefer a double room rather than
dormitory style accommodation, please let us know and we will be very
happy to advise you on availability and additional cost.
Please note that we use
the Endless Summer Backpackers or other nearby guesthouses to accommodate
our volunteers when the Elements Guesthouse is fully-booked.
2: FAMILY HOME STAY
The total cost for OPTION 2 is GB£1095 / US$1895 for 6
weeks, including donation to the project, meals, accommodation, laundry
and daily transport to the Centre.
will be accommodated in a family home in Table View close to PCC. The home
also serves as an emergency animal rescue centre and Penguin Chick
Satellite Station for PCC. As well as daily transfers to and from PCC, all
of your meals and a laundry service are included. Along with the many
penguin chicks and approximately 100 rescued cats, you may also meet
occasional visitors in the form of baby baboons, owls and buck and other
injured animals that are brought to the home. Once you have learnt
how to feed the adult penguins at PCC you will also be able to assist with
the chicks at the home.
are two rooms, each sleeping up to 3 volunteers in comfortable beds.
You will have use of the facilities at the home including the TV, video
player, kitchen and bathroom and there will be lifts available to
places of interest including Century City, Blouberg Beach and Internet
cafes. All diets can be catered for, so please let us know in
advance if you will require vegetarian or other options for your meals.
are allergic to cats then you must ensure that you have the required
medication for the duration of the project, or select the Guesthouse
option as described above.
Due to currency fluctuations, Enkosini
uses USD rates as our standard. The GBP
rates are indications of approximate recent values (1GBP:1.67USD). Please visit
www.xe.com to convert from USD to your
Volunteers receive a
$100 USD discount when joining multiple Enkosini Eco Experience
(one discount only).
Training / Qualifications
You do not need any special skills to join
this project, as all the necessary training will be given. If you have
specialist veterinary skills or are studying for this line of work, there may be opportunities for you to spend time assisting
the PCC vets during your stay.
Dates & Minimum Stay
There are no set arrival/departure dates for
this project. Volunteers just need to inform Enkosini Eco Experience of
the date they are planning to arrive. The Penguin Conservation Centre
requires that volunteers commit to a
minimum stay of 6 weeks. Volunteers are required to sign
an indemnity form acknowledging and accepting the consequences of working
in close contact with wild animals. Applicants must be over 16 years old.
Please bear in mind that the sooner you
apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
Upon arrival at the Cape Town International
Airport, volunteers must catch a taxi to Table View to relax and
unwind before commencing work at the Penguin Conservation Centre. If
you provide us with your flight details, we can also organize a shuttle to
pick you up at the airport.
Table View, you will have access to regular bus services for exploring the
local area. The Penguin Conservation Centre is also within walking distance of the Bayside
Shopping Centre in Table View with a wide variety of shops, restaurants,
internet cafes and a cinema.
PCC is based in a malaria-free area and
there are no formal vaccination requirements for entering South Africa,
however it is incumbent upon each person to get their own medical advice
on vaccinations and on whether or not to follow a malaria prophylactic programme
(if you are planning onward travels into malarial zones). See FAQs for complete packing list.
Your oilskins, boots and gloves will be
provided by the Penguin Conservation Centre. If you are squeamish when it comes to fish and guano,
you might want to bring a peg for your nose!
made it home safe and well last Sunday. I knew I would miss my daft
little penguins but I didn't know just how much! Was dreaming about
them the other night! Keep thinking it's feeding time or 2 hourly
fluids... I've just done an interview with a local newspaper about my
African adventure. I had an amazing time with you - thank you so much for letting me stay.
Keep doing the good things you do." -Dawn Johnston,
"When I arrived, there were 100 penguins at the Centre and most of them
were getting released in the first two weeks. The work was initially
a little scary in that you had to learn very quickly how to catch, hold,
insert a stomach tube and medicate the birds. The Centre tries to
rehabilitate and release them as quickly as possible. By the end of
my first week, I was catching, holding, feeding and beginning to do tubing
and medications. During my third week, the Centre received 600
orphaned chicks to house and care for - they each needed fluids 3x per day
and fish 2x per day. This created 12 hour days for us but by the
time that I left, I was great at tubing and feeding and was even given
pens to supervise on certain days. It was a great experience and all
the nips on my hands and legs have almost healed!" - Jane Stanfield,
"In March 2003 I went to Cape Town, South
Africa to do a three-month voluntary placement with the Penguin
Conservation Centre, a
rehabilitation centre for penguins and other coastal birds. However,
instead of staying for only 3 months, I extended my stay by another 6 weeks
as I fell in love with the country, made lots of friends and an
opportunity for traveling arose.
Conservation Centre devotes its time
primarily to rescuing and rehabilitating oiled and injured penguins.
However, within my 3 months of working there, the project also admitted a
few albatrosses, pelicans and giant southern petrels (which are very rare
to see in the wild, therefore a huge privilege to actually handle). A
volunteer's daily chores involve preparing fish for feeding the birds,
feeding and tubing the birds, cleaning the pens, crates and pools, and
when necessary (during periods of oil slicks) washing the birds. At times,
particularly when large numbers of oiled birds, sometimes hundreds, are
admitted at the same time it does become very intense and tiring. I
remember going home for the weekend on a Friday leaving 6 penguins behind,
to then arrive on Monday morning to find 150! However, the work is very
rewarding. As the Penguin Conservation Centre tries to rehabilitate the
birds as quickly as possible, preferably within 2 weeks, you are able to
see the progress of the sick birds, and at least once during your stay
you'll be able to release the birds off a boat back into the wild." -Vicky Fox, England