The African (or Jackass) Penguins’ breeding ground at Stony Point is near an old abandoned whaling station where, from 1917 until the Great Depression, around 300 whales were killed each year for their oil. The whaling station finally closed in 1930 and without any particular reason, the penguins started to breed at the abandoned station.
It is one of only two shore-based breeding colonies in South Africa with the more famous breeding colony at the Boulders Beach near Simonstown. The best times to view the birds are early in the morning or late in the afternoon when they return from their 20 kilometer fishing expeditions.
The removal of bird eggs, declining fish stocks, attacks by domestic dogs and even local leopards had detrimental effects on the breeding colony. The overall numbers has decreased rapidly during the last few decades and there are currently only 170 000 birds left – about 10% of their population 50 years ago. Fortunately, circumstances have improved since it has been declared a protected area. A wooden boardwalk takes visitors directly to the nesting burrows but also effectively keep people from causing damage to the area.
The African Penguin grows to approximately 70cm tall and weighs up to 3 kilograms. Regarded as an endangered species, they mate for life and returns to the same nesting site for up to 15 years.
Also sharing the breeding site with the penguins are the endangered Whitebreasted and Cape Cormorants and the vulnerable Bank Cormorant.
The road to the breeding ground at Stony Point is easily accessed and clearly signposted from the R44 (Clarence Drive). Although the breeding colony is now fenced off it can still be visited daily from 09h00 in the morning until 17h00 in the afternoon.