When a fox killed 26 of Manly’s little penguins in June, the local community fought back. And won.
In an extraordinary campaign, almost 150 people volunteered to protect the penguins 24 hours a day.
The team, which included community “penguin wardens”, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff and fox control experts, physically guarded the North Head colonies for three months without a break. And that was for three winter months - with “freezing” temperatures and long, dark nights.
At the same time NPWS increased its program of fox baiting and soft jaw trapping, and used marksmen and tracker dogs to hunt the predator.
The fox responsible for the killings - able to be identified by its paw prints, penguin autopsy results and infra-red camera footage -
was never caught, but rangers are confident it is no longer active.
So now they're moving to stage two.
Penguin volunteers no longer have to spend the night at Collins Beach, Store Beach or Q Station. They will be replaced by back-to-base cameras and an array of new high-tech gear. As well frequent fox-baiting and soft-jaw trapping programs will be carried out and there will be a blitz on people walking dogs in North Head national parkland - an offence that carries a $350 fine.
But the new equipment doesn’t come cheap, so the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife has started a $20,000 fund raising campaign. They need
$10,000 for 20 motion sensing cameras to monitor the area
$5,000 for a thermal camera that can detect the heat given off by penguins and predators
$450 for 5 fox lights that are triggered by movement and give off bright, flashing lights to scare away foxes
$1,000 for 10 nesting boxes to help the penguins rebuild their population
To help, go to
In the meantime NPWS ranger Mel Tyas said the penguin colonies had bounced back, with the 26 penguins largely replaced by birds moving in from outside the area.
“It’s great news,” she said.
“The volunteers were absolutely fantastic - they were there all winter long, and now it looks like the colonies will be OK. And if there is any trouble again we’ll be onto it straight away.”
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.