Monday, October 8, 2012

Penguin Invasion

Today, another one of those stories that arrives at a low point and gives me the will to go on blogging: The sad tale of a town in South Africa that has been invaded by penguins.

They are everywhere: in the bushes, on the lawn, the patio, the driveway - they've even been caught breaking and entering homes.

The African penguin might be endangered, but homeowners in Stony Point in Betty's Bay believe the breeding birds are "endangering" the lives of residents.
Thousands of African penguins are driving people in the Western Cape town crazy. While many have holiday homes there, "79 and a quarter-year-old" Barbara Wallers has lived in the area since 1947, and said she gets little sleep because the birds make too much noise.
"Just a month ago, I found one in my kitchen that s**t all over the floor. I tried to get it out with a swatter, but it wouldn't go. Eventually someone caught it," said Wallers, as she tried to chase dozens of penguins from her friend's property.
"Listen to them. They grunt and bellow and squeak all night. I can't sleep," she said.
"When I call the authorities to complain, they say I am rude. Who wouldn't be?"
Wallers said they have always had the occasional penguin in the garden, but in the last two years things have got out of hand.
Johannes Klopper, a retired medical doctor from Durbanville, said the penguins have kept him away from his holiday home.
"On my property I have between 30 to 50 nests. They cause such a big mess that it really has become a health hazard. My wife doesn't want to go there now because we cannot sleep at night," said Klopper.
He said it is difficult for him, at his age, to clean up the guano that smells terrible and kills plants.
Klopper and Wallers claim the municipality promised to erect a fence large enough to keep the waddling birds away from the homes, but it has been an empty promise.
The existing fence has not been maintained and is riddled with holes.
 As usual, there are also locals who side with the bad animals:
However, Mike Oosthuyzen, who has a holiday house there, said he did not mind the penguins and liked having them in his garden.
And authorities, typically, claim that their hands are tied: The situation will "hopefully" improve when the fence is extended - but this can't be be done for several months until the breeding season is over.

The press perhaps misses part of the point here as well:
They are also called Jackass penguins because of their "donkey-like bray", which keeps Stony Point residents wide awake at night. 
because clearly that's not the only reason that this bird's name suits them.

Thanks again for making life worth living to Nothing to Do with Arbroath.

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