An oil spill following the sinking of the MV Treasure off Cape Town in June 2000 threatened colonies of African penguins, oiling 19,000 adult penguins at the height of the best breeding season on record for this vulnerable species. Over 40 per cent of the African penguin lives on nearby Robben and Dassen islands. Around 12,000 volunteers from across the world joined in a rescue mission. By the end of the operation, nearly all the affected birds had been returned to the wild. This was the largest animal rescue event in history; more than 91% of the penguins were successfully rehabilitated and released.
Jon spent three months documenting the rescue operation for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. His photographs were awarded third place for Environmental and Nature Stories at the 2001 World Press Photo Awards, and were the subject of Spill — Saving Africa’s Oiled Penguins, a book about the penguin rescue published by IFAW. All photos © Jon Hrusa/IFAW