South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs said that African penguins are at the brink of extinction. Statistics show that, in 2001, there was a number of 56,000 penguin pairs in South Africa, whereas, in 2012, the number decreased to 19,000.
These African penguins have been a big tourist attraction, despite their decreasing numbers, an issue which has to be prevented eventually.
The situation worsened in the northern part of Cape Town, where 90 percent of the penguin population has perished, in approximately 11 years. Moreover, statistics conducted by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs also portrayed that in the timeframe 2004-2015 – 30,000 pairs of penguins were wiped out.
A previous attempt of the department of Environmental Affairs was to declare as off limits four fishing grounds in the area, to observe whether the penguin population could be saved. It is not a certainty that fishing was the cause for penguins to start going extinct.
The cause for these unfortunate events is the lack of food. Penguins’ main food source is sardines and anchovy fish. Due to the migration of these fish species to Southeast, cooler waters, penguins cannot rely any longer on their primary food source, as an unbalance in their food’s distribution has been created.
The African penguin species was labeled as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This happened beginning with 2012. Out of a total of 17 species of penguins worldwide, 5 have been labeled endangered, these being: the Galapagos penguin, from Ecuador, the Yellow-eyed one and the Erect-crested species from New Zealand, and the Northern Rockhopper penguin, rising from the South Atlantic islands.
Moreover, the main factors which led to a decrease in penguin populations are: sea water becoming warmer, which led fish to leave specific areas where African penguins would forage, predators, toxic algae, disease and, last but not least, fishing.
African penguins emit donkey-like harsh, loud sounds, heehaws, while another of their specific characteristics is the pink patches around their eyes. These marine birds are still found in South Africa and its neighboring country, Namibia. The IUCN estimated their population would be 80,000 at the present time.
The Department of Environmental Affairs reported that they truly desire African penguin populations not to become extinct. And in order to ensure their food source, they want to implement breeding sites near penguin colonies.
Photo Credits photovolcanica.com