Thursday, December 07, 2006

Penguins nest vandalised

Penguins nest vandalisedBy Samantha Williams
December 07, 2006 12:00
SYDNEY'S endangered little penguins have suffered a serious setback after vandals attacked one of their nesting havens.Brainless idiots smashed two little penguins eggs and destroyed a number of the nesting boxes placed on the Harbour foreshore at Manly.The parent penguins, who were in the middle of the breeding season, have not been seen since the attack was reported to the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) early last week.The DEC has launched an investigation into the destruction of the penguin eggs.The DEC has fought to boost numbers in the Manly colony, recently introducing five little penguins from a booming colony in Pittwater.For years the penguins at Manly have battled foxes and other predators like domestic dogs.Little penguin recovery team leader Tania Duratovic said yesterday anyone caught damaging eggs in a threatened population faced a $220,000 fine."The community works hard to halt the decline of this endangered population," Ms Duratovic said."This population is extremely small and vulnerable, that's why a critical habitat was declared to provide the highest level of protection for penguins in their breeding area."Little penguins, also known as fairy penguins, are only 30cm tall and weigh just 1kg when fully grown.They are the world's smallest penguins. The population of penguins in Sydney's Harbour are the most intensely managed endangered species in NSW. Numbers are now so low that the Harbour population is in danger of becoming wiped out. According to the DEC, there were once hundreds of little penguins in Sydney Harbour but numbers have now dramatically declined to around 60 pairs of birds.The decline in population is caused by a loss of suitable habitat, attacks by foxes and dogs as well as disturbance at nesting sites.DEC has placed more than 30 nest boxes across the critical habitat area, particularly in Sydney Harbour National Park, to encourage the birds to breed in a safer environment.The population is monitored fortnightly during the breeding season by the DEC and a volunteer warden.Ms Duratovic said the nesting boxes had an unprecedented breeding success rate – 80 per cent last year.The DEC is appealing for information about the incidents – contact Tania Duratovic through the environment line on 131555.
The Daily Telegraph

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