They are everywhere: in the bushes, on the lawn, the patio, the driveway - they've even been caught breaking and entering South African homes. The African penguin might be endangered, but homeowners in Stony Point in Betty's Bay near Cape Town believe the breeding birds are "endangering" the lives of residents.
Thousands of African penguins are driving people in the Western Cape town crazy. While many have holiday homes there, "79 and a quarter-year-old" Barbara Wallers has lived in the area since 1947, and said she gets little sleep because the birds make too much noise. "Just a month ago, I found one in my kitchen that s**t all over the floor. I tried to get it out with a swatter, but it wouldn't go. Eventually someone caught it," said Wallers.
"Listen to them. They grunt and bellow and squeak all night. I can't sleep," she said. "When I call the authorities to complain, they say I am rude. Who wouldn't be? I can't use earplugs at night because we have burglaries." Wallers said they have always had the occasional penguin in the garden, but in the last two years things have got out of hand. Johannes Klopper, a retired medical doctor from Durbanville, said the penguins have kept him away from his holiday home.
"On my property I have between 30 to 50 nests. They cause such a big mess that it really has become a health hazard. My wife doesn't want to go there now because we cannot sleep at night," said Klopper. He said it is difficult for him, at his age, to clean up the guano that smells terrible and kills plants. Klopper and Wallers claim the municipality promised to erect a fence large enough to keep the waddling birds away from the homes, but it has been an empty promise.