Bird Island launched after R6.5 million transformation
The Western Cape Government and CapeNature have invested R6.5 million in transforming Bird Island.
The new, revamped Bird Island was launched today. Located off the coast of Lambert’s Bay, Bird Island is home to nearly 17 000 Cape gannets.
Bird Island is one of just six breeding colonies of Cape gannets worldwide.
The facility now features a new exhibition building with skeletal displays of a Cape fur seal, Dusky dolphin, Cape gannet, and krill. It also boasts the only Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) skeletal display in South Africa.
The new upgrades include improvements to the current bird hide, a life-size Southern Right whale replica, oversized Cape cormorant nest replica and marine-orientated puzzles. The upgrades were funded by CapeNature and the Western Cape
Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Alan Winde, MEC of Economic Opportunities and Anton Bredell, MEC of Environmental Affairs and Development attended today’s launch.
MEC Winde said the Western Cape’s most popular attractions, such as the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Gardens and now Bird Island, constantly reinvested in their offering.
“Bird Island is a vital part of our tourism offering along the West Coast. This is why the Western Cape Government is committed to reinvesting in this world-class attraction. The addition of new facilities, such as the skeletal displays and the upgrading of existing facilities, like the revamped Penguin Pool, ensures that Bird Island will continue to provide unique and rich experiences for local and international visitors.
During the most recent summer season, several West Coast establishments reported increased tourism numbers and I am confident the transformation of Bird Island will draw more visitors to the region, adding to local economic growth and jobs.”
MEC Winde said the West Coast should focus on its unique selling points.
“There are other ‘West Coasts’ in the world, but there is only one ‘Weskus’ and the region must drive that uniqueness. The kreef and rooibos is all part of the package and the Weskus should emphasise their unique culture and heritage.”
MEC Bredell, said: “This island is a great example of giving communities access to environmental education. The re-introduction of the penguin to the island now provides people with opportunities to learn about the plight of the African penguin and has provided opportunities for people in the local community, working at the island, to understand more about conserving these animals and develop the skills in taking care of them.”
CapeNature CEO, Dr Razeena Omar, said: “Bird Island plays an integral role in the Lambert’s Bay area and with these new interactive features, which are fun and educational for the whole family, we know this will continue to lift the profile of Lambert’s Bay and bring huge benefit to both the Cape gannet colony and the local community.”
CapeNature has also partnered with both the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to bring displays of African penguins to a newly upgraded penguin pool as well as new touch pools to provide interaction with typical shore and marine life.
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SOURCE: South African Official News