Volkswagen South Africa has announced a sponsorship of two vehicles to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.
Dyer Island is a 20 hectare nature reserve in Gansbaai and is managed by CapeNature. It is a rich breeding ground for birds, most significantly the endangered African penguin and, accordingly, is classified an important bird area by Birdlife International. Dyer Island’s surrounding waters are home to African penguins, great white sharks, seals, dolphins and whales – the “Marine Big 5”.
The Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) plays a pivotal role in the research and conservation of the animals in the area and has partnered with leading universities, the Department of Environmental Affairs and other Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). One of their main efforts is focused on supporting education to the community.
The two sponsored vehicles, a Touareg with BlueMotion Technology and a Polo BlueMotion will assist DICT with beach rescues, transporting researchers and volunteers, and the general running of the organisation.
“Volkswagen’s vision is to become a company with meaning and impact in terms of environmental consciousness, and an industry leader in environmental responsibility. We believe our partnership and support of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust will play a critical role in assisting them to conserve the rich marine life in the Gansbaai area,” said Mike Glendinning, Director: Sales and Marketing at Volkswagen Group South Africa.
“Our sponsorship forms part of our Think Blue initiative by which we try to implement small changes that will make big differences in the future. This is our small contribution to the ecological sustainability of our Marine Big 5. As Volkswagen, we hope our sponsorship will generate public awareness that will lead to more funding that can be used to support the work of the DICT,” added Glendinning.
Wilfred Chivell founded the Trust in 2006 when, together with CapeNature, they started a penguin housing project to address the issue of the lack of breeding habitat for this species. Past extensive guano scraping removed the African penguins’ natural breeding habitat and left them exposed to predators and other elements.
Chivell designed a unique penguin home, modelled on their natural burrows. His design has been lauded nationally and internationally and is now used extensively at other colonies.
Chivell said: “We continuously conduct studies on penguins, whales and dolphins, but at the moment we have a strong focus on the great white shark. We are studying their phenomenal healing abilities and also, through acoustic tagging and tracking as well as looking at environmental parameters, their inshore seasonal migrations. Our database of extensive fin identification studies is crucial in building population estimates.”
Most importantly, the DICT together with its eco-tourism partner, Marine Dynamics, want to educate people about the great white shark to help them view the species as essential in the oceanic food chain.
The DICT is also the point of contact for animal rescue in the Gansbaai area and is involved with seabird and whale disentanglements.
“The DICT is excited to be associated with Volkswagen’s Think Blue Initiative. We are confident that our partnership will give our projects exposure to national and international communities.”