The Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation's Marine Wildlife Management Programme recently conducted an effective marine wildlife management training course with Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and Scientific Services, SANParks. The two-day course took place at the Cape Research Centre (CRC) in Tokai and was attended by 24 SANParks TMNP and CRC Coastal Marine team members.
The intensive training programme focused on stranded marine wildlife management and the specific skills needed to handle incidents where animals are stranded at the beach. The course content allowed constant engagement through discussions, practical activities, and interactive presentations. Using specially designed models and equipment, participants had a chance to practice some of the techniques and skills required when handling potentially dangerous marine life.
"It was awesome to see how excited and enthusiastic all the SANParks staff were! When people approach things like this with so much enthusiasm, it makes it so easy for us to feed off that, and the teaching and learning exchange just flows!" - Two Oceans Aquarium Marine Animal Welfare Specialist, Claire Taylor
Training courses of this nature are crucial as they help expand animal rescue circles while minimising risk for both humans and animals in terms of safety. The training also gives participants with a higher level of confidence in handling animals and situations that may threaten animal welfare.
"Safely assisting and handling marine wildlife, including seals, otters, and turtles, demands expert knowledge and confidence to ensure effective intervention. The Two Oceans Aquarium team generously imparted their extensive hands-on experience and insights, cultivated over decades, equipping us with the skills and understanding needed to respond adeptly when the situation arises", Dr Alison Kock, marine biologist, CRC.
The Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation team facilitated the course, including Brett Glasby, Claire Taylor, Martine Viljoen, Dr Nathalie Viljoen, and Phindile Gazu. The modules included species identification, marine wildlife conservation and management, emergency response as a first responder, safe handling, transport and triage treatment of various marine animals, including seals, otters, cetaceans, seabirds, turtles and other coastal wildlife, as well as animal welfare considerations and handling the media.
“The marine wildlife management training has equipped our rangers with knowledge related to capture techniques and gear, crowd control, media interaction, statements, and stakeholder engagement. This training specifically addresses incidents involving seals and other marine wildlife within SANParks managed coastlines, ensuring effective response to injuries, distress, or strandings”, said Ezekiel Kosa, Conservation Manager of the TMNP MPA.
This course was a huge success, thanks to all involved. There is a need for more courses of this nature to build a network of skilled and confident individuals operating along the entire coast of the Western Cape, and we are looking forward to more training opportunities and collaboration in the future.