How The Ajubatus Foundation Began: The Penguin Crisis (2002)

by | Oct 8, 2022 | 4 comments

The Ajubatus Foundation was founded early in 2002 and was known, in the early days, as ‘The Ajubatus Marine and Wildlife Rescue Foundation’ (Strandnet). The concept evolved from a growing public concern over the significant number of “stranding” Penguins (The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the Jackass Penguin), Cape Fur Seals and Southern Arican Turtles (there are 22 species of Southern African Turtle and Tortoises). Penguins were a particular concern of ours, because due to overfishing, penguins were susceptible to:

  1. Swim further to feed, which increases the risk of death for infants
  2. Unable to build enough body fat for when they go onto land to moult, causing them to have insufficient body mass to complete the malting process and either die on land, or return to the ocean to face hypothermia
  3. Will feed on things such as Squid, however they cannot digest the cartilage and this accumulates in the stomach until they are unable to feed at all and die
  4. Are at risk of oil spills near major habitats, such as the Port of Ngqura that lies off of Port Elizabeth and is within 100m of the protected St. Croix Island. Ships will anchor offshore and often flush their tanks, disposing toxins and oil into the ocean. 

In the beginning, the Ajubatus Foundation served as a professional stranding response unit and taxi service to the State-owned facility ‘Bayworld’ in Port Elizabeth. The handling of Penguins and Cape Fur Seals required skill and the use of specialised equipment. For example, we used a reinforced conical tube-like structure with opening straps, whereby the broad opening was presented to the Seal and pulled over its head. Seals have a voracious bite and are extremely nimble, thus the tube-like structure was the only correct way to capture them on the beach. Once the large opening is over the animal’s head, the animal will automatically dart forward towards the narrow end, secure the strapping with only its nose protruding, and the animal can then be safely transported. On the other hand, as for penguins, the use of custom nets and containers allowed for them to be transported to a Rehabilitation facility.

However, Ajubatus soon realised that ‘Bayworld’ was unable to handle the increasing number of strandings, and their archaic protocols often caused more harm than good. After extensive negotiation with the South African Lighthouse and Ports Authority, Ajubatus was able to take over the Seal Point Lighthouse in Cape St. Francis and develop a state-of-the-art facility. To facilitate the mounting costs of the operation (estimated costs were €175.00 per Penguin in rehab), the Foundation established a Historic Lighthouse Tours Programme, Coffee Shop and Restaurant. These initiatives increased the community’s involvement, such as using the local community to make hand-made curios and produce home-styled cakes for clients. Thus through our collective efforts, the Ajubatus Lighthouse Facility was extremely successful, became the focal point of the community, and welcomed over 50,000 visitors per annum.

By this time, Ajubatus had also signed an MOU with South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Kruger National Park to specifically assist with funding, resources, and scientific skills application in key research projects based in the Kruger National Park. As a result, the state-of-the-art Lighthouse facility was handed over to government officials and the community to continue its legacy.

About Kayla Liebenberg
Kayla is a driven and motivated individual who is passionate about wildlife and conservation. She always strives to significantly contribute to the scientific community and throughout her own life. She has worked with renowned researchers in her scientific work, has participated in formal scientific societies, and even presented at conferences, such as the annual Fynbos Forum. At the Ajubatus Foundation, Kayla focuses on broadening our opportunities to collaborate with other organizations, developing products that resonate with our target audience, planning our marketing campaigns, and ensuring that operations go smoothly and reach our targets.


  1. דירות דיסקרטיות בחדרה

    Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover someone that truly understands what theyre talking about online. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people have to check this out and understand this side of your story.

    • Kayla Liebenberg

      Hi There,

      Thank you so much for your message. We always appreciate meeting people that share our passion to conserve the world and appreciate efforts to do just that. We would love for you to share our message and we also welcome you to subscribe to our newsletter, so you can be kept updated on our upcoming projects. Thank you and feel free to stay in touch with us.


    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. Its always useful to read content from other authors and practice something from their websites.

    • Kayla Liebenberg

      Hi There,

      We are thrilled to hear that you learned something new and found things in our blog that truly stood out to you. As a conservation foundation, we strive to be an educational facility at heart and lead by example with our conservation initiatives. If you would like to know more about our offered services, please e-mail us using the contact page.


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