Remembering the human elements of endangered species management planning: exploring perspectives of African penguin conservation in Cape Town, South Africa
My research focused on the perspectives of the fishing and conservation communities in and around Cape Town, South Africa as they related to African Penguin conservation. As one of the first penguin qualitative projects, and my first attempt at field research, it was a constantly evolving but very interesting struggle to get the information I wanted. Barriers included language, culture, perceived bias, and a very tight-knit community protective of its interests, especially considering the ongoing struggle for equality in the fishing industry post-reform and post-apartheid. I used my research for Dr. Dove’s foundations class to understand the background of the fishing community, a personal challenge to myself as a dedicated promoter of sustainable fisheries and former aquarium keeper. I knew my bias, and wanted to overcome it to make sure those accused of causing penguin decline (small pelagic fishers) had a voice in conservation decisions to improve future compliance.
I am still working with my data, but preliminarily I can say that penguin conservation is far more complicated and political than I had ever imagined. I utilized my connections with a local aquarium to open doors that otherwise would have been inaccessible, and am very grateful to the TRI Fellowship and Lindsay Fellowship for Research in Africa for their generous support in forging this new path in penguin conservation.