Sarel the Cape Gannet

BY Vicky Porter

On Wednesday the 24th of April, Carol was going about her daily routine at The Waste Trade Company when a feathered friend caught her attention.  The elegant bird with white plumage and black markings was not a regular sight to see in the waste yard.  She immediately alerted Kay, who advised her to contact Bayworld or SANCCOB.  Carol managed to capture our new friend and kept in a box for SANCCOB, who collected him shortly.  Whilst waiting, he was named Sarel.

It turns out that Sarel is a Cape Gannet, popular for his silky feathers, golden crown, black beak (with tail feathers to match) and large size.  These pelagic birds (birds that frequent coastal waters) are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data List.  Native to SA and Namibia, only six breeding colonies remain, three in each country. 

On average, a Cape Gannet lays one egg per year, which hatches in 44 days.  After hatching, chicks stay with their parents for approximately 3 months, until it’s time to venture into the wild.  Although they are magnificent hunters – they dive into the ocean from heights of up to 30 metres to snatch their meal with their razor sharp beaks – they are also hunted, especially when young.  Cape Fur seals and Great White Pelicans particularly have a taste for Gannets.

We have yet to discover why Sarel decided to visit The Waste Trade Company, where recycling is processed.  Perhaps he didn’t have a decent catch that day and thought a meal might present itself in a can?  This is one of the many reasons that we ask our clients to keep their cans clean, as any residual food does attract wildlife and other critters.  Although we love animals, the depot isn’t the safest space for them to settle.  


Sometimes gannets also get blown off course by strong winds and storms. They get exhausted and sometimes end up a little bit inland.  They need a run off to take off so if they get themselves stuck in a small area they cant take off and fly away.


We would like to thank SANCCOB for fetching Sarel, who is still in ICU, but is being nursed back to health.  We reckon Carol might have adopted him, but fresh fish smoothies are not readily available (apparently Sarel loves his fishy drinks)!

 April 30, 2019
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Vicky Porter

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