Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on July 8, 2000 · 2
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 2

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, July 8, 2000
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'2 A TIMES SATURDAY, JULY 8! 2000 THE WORLD Activists rescue thousands off penguins from oil spill Associated Press . CAPE TOWN, South Africa The penguins just keep coming. For two weeks ever since an oil spill off South Africa's coast began threatening tens of thousands of African penguins the largest bird-rescue operation undertaken has churned along. ! More than 10,000 untainted penguins have been evacuated from their island home off Cape Town's coast, driven eight hours east and released into the ocean for the long swim home. Authorities hope the trip will take them at least 10 days long enough to break up the spill from a tanker that sank off Cape Town on June 23. ; Meanwhile, oil-soaked penguins have arrived by the truck-load at a warehouse-turned-bird refugee center. By Friday, more than 18,000 traumatized birds had been brought to the warehouse and 4,000 more were being housed in other rehabilitation centers. The numbers are expected to climb. 'To see the birds in this state is Absolutely shocking," volunteer Craig Viljoen said. 'The birds are suffering and time is starting to take its toll on them." I The warehouse is abuzz with activity. Volunteers of all ages don bright yellow oilskins and pitch in to care for the birds, which must be watched for up to two months until their coats have regained waterproofing destroyed by the oil. 1 "The response has been incredible. We've had people from all around the world coming to help," said Robin Thompson, a youth hostel owner who is recruiting backpackers to volunteer, i More than 300 blue plastic pools serve as the penguins' homes until their release. For 14 hours a day, volunteers move from pool to pool, coaxing small fish down the throats of the birds, which have no scruples about biting the hand that feeds them. Other workers thaw the several tons of fish the birds consume daily. ; An enclosure serves as a nursery for 400 fluffy chicks. Though not tainted by the oil, they were separated from their parents and need to be fed for about a month World Bank cancels China loan Associated Press ! WASHINGTON World Bank directors bowed to opposition from the United States, other governments and human rights groups Friday and rejected a $40-million loan to China to resettle 58,000 farmers in traditionally Tibetan lands. 1 China's representative, Zhu Xian, said his government would pay for the initiative on its own as it objected to conditions the bank's directors wanted to impose on the anti-poverty project. World Bank President James Wolfensohn said the bank accepted China's decision to proceed and looked forward "to a continuation of our long-standing relationship in the context of other projects." Pro-Tibet and environmental groups contend China wants to dilute the minority Tibetan population in western Qinghai province. The loan, part of a larger $160-million proposal, would have been used to resettle impoverished Chinese and Hui Muslim farmers to more fertile lands that are the homeland of 4,000 Tibetan and Mongol herders. After meeting Thursday and Friday, the bank's 24 executive directors voted 14-10 against Wol-fensohn's recommendations to conduct further studies on the project over the next 15-18 months and let him then decide whether to go ahead without another vote, two meeting participants said, i In London, Britain's development minister Clare Short regretted the bank no longer would be involved in the project to ensure adherence to the bank's social and environmental standards. "This is a pyrrhic victory for those who have campaigned against the project," she said. ; Several pro-Tibetan activists who had camped outside the bank headquarters for days greeted the board's decision with cries of delight. "This is good news for us," said John Ackerly of the International Campaign for Tibet. V iff, jT 1 1 We AP Rescued African penguins warm up under infrared lamps after being cleaned of oil Wednesday in Cape Town, South Africa. until they are ready to go to sea. A separate room houses washing stations, where volunteers scrub wriggling penguins clean an exhausting process that takes up to an hour for each bird. Viljoen has been constructing an artificial beach and dam outside the warehouse where the penguins will be able to swim for brief periods. Without their waterproof coats, they can't swim for too long without suffering hypothermia. "When we started out it was chaos, but controls have systematically been put in place," Viljoen said. Less than 1 percent of the captured birds have died, and veterinarians say the rehabilitated birds have a good chance of survival. "This operation is incredible. . . . We're running smoothly," said Steve Sarrow, curator of birds at Baltimore Zoo, who was helping look after the chicks. The penguin centers are being run by the Southern African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. A team of more than 40 international experts flown in by the International Fund for Animal Welfare manages the centers. Most of the penguins were captured from Robben Island, home to the world's third-largest penguin colony, which was badly hit by the spill. The island once housed a prison that held political prisoners, including former President Nelson Mandela. Several thousand more oil-coated penguins were hauled from their burrows on Dassen Island, a nature reserve 40 miles northwest of Cape Town, where an estimated 55,000 birds lived the world's largest colony of African penguins. Treasure, the tanker that caused the spill, was carrying 1,300 tons of bunker oil, some of which is still trapped in its tanks. On Friday, the South African Maritime Authority said the slick was shrinking and dispersing naturally, although large patches of oil were visible in the bay. A salvage company has pumped about 40 tons of oil off the wrecked ship. Despite all the efforts, the penguins' future is less than rosy. Tony Williams, South Africa's top penguin expert, estimates it will take at least five years before the population recovers. African penguins, which are listed as vulnerable to extinction, are found only off the coast of southern Africa. The population is estimated at 150,000 to 180,000 10 percent of what it was thought to be 100 years ago, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Flight of the African penguin An oil spill from a tanker that sank last month near the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, is endangering the world's largest colony of penguins. Dassen Island is home to about 56,000 African penguins, and nearby Robben Island has a population of about 14,000. . Conservationists have sprung into action to save as many birds as they can. The effort, led by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, includes displacing birds that have not been affected by the oil as well as cleaning those that have been covered in oil. Atlantic Ocean Dassen Island SOUTH AFRICA Sunken tanker Yzerfontem Icape Town Port Elizabeth Robben Island ' Cape of Good Hope Area shown Cape Town 4 'fill Indian Ocean The penguins' swim home is expected to take 11 days 100 miles Uncontaminated penguins are being rounded up and taken ashore by boat and helicopter. The birds are then driven to Port Elizabeth and released immediately. Conservationists hope the oil disperses by the time the penguins swim home. Cleaning and rehabilitation D The birds are placed in ventilated boxes and taken to a treatment center in Cape Town. When they get there, they are tube-fed a solution oi glucose . -i,! and electrolytes, " as well as a 1 small dose of V charcoal to absorb ingested oil. Q Stronger birds are washed as soon as possible. First, they are coated with a special solution that breaks down oil. Then they are placed in a series of basins full of warm water and detergent. Warm water is used because the birds' plumage is no longer waterproof and they are susceptible to hypothermia. Kir t TOM r D The birds are rehabilitated for up to three weeks. During this time they do a lot of swimming, which hydrates them, works the soap out of their feathers and helps them regain strength. El The birds are spray-rinsed, fed and hydrated. They sleep under infrared lamps to keep them warm and dry their feathers. About 20,000 penguins have been sent for cleaning. It takes two people one hour to clean one bird. 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