Sphenisco – Conservation of the Humboldt-Penguin, in coordination with Chilean activists and scientists, desires to save the Humboldt penguin from extinction.
The wild populations on the coasts of Chile and Peru are threatened by a variety of factors. The reduction in the fish population through overfishing and climatic changes, ocean pollution, and illegal harvesting of guano are taking away the Humboldt-Penguin's basis for life. In addition, animals die in fishnets, by fishing through the use of dynamite, or are caught and eaten or used as fish bait. Uncontrolled tourism destroys the breeding colonies and reduces the clutch's chance of success. Currently, one of the most important breeding areas, located in northern Chile, is threatened via the planned building of coal-fired power plants.
Primary goals to prevent the extinction of the Humboldt penguin are the protection and survelliance of breeding colonies, the creation of marine protection areas, and the prohibition of fishing with gill nets and dynamite. Further, it is important to sensitize the local population to natural and species protection and alternative methods of deriving income, such as eco-tourism.
Sphenisco will support the in-situ work, primarily in the areas of environmental education, research and development of sustainable sources of income. Next to the placing of volunteers and researchers, Sphenisco helps concretely through the preparation of media about environmental education.
The association is already working with Chilean universities in Santiago and Coquimbo and the organizations MODEMA (Movement for the Protection of the Environment, located in La Higuera, Coquimbo Region, northern Chile), and Ecotourismo (located in Puñihuil, southern Chile).
Ideas and energy of active organizational members are bundeled into networks; these networks consult with each other, create projects, plan activities and then link these activities together. Included in the organizational founding members are to date the zoos of Bremerhaven, Dresden, Halle, Landau, Magdeburg, Osnabrück in Germany, Dublin Zoo in Ireland, and the Kolmarden Zoo in Sweden.
The ideological and when necessary, financial support, of natural and species protection campaigns, the raising of consciousness of the Humboldt-Penguins' problems worldwide, and primarily the networking of different activities and development of cooperative efforts are further tasks of Sphenisco. The work of Sphenisco is integrated in a in-situ project of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Further goals of the organization are the improvement of condition in captivity of Humboldt-Penguins, as well as increasing the success of their breeding in zoos.