The African Penguin, Spheniscus demersus
, also known as the
Black-footed Penguin, is found on the south-western
coast of Africa, living in colonies on 24 islands between Namibia
and Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with the
largest colony on Dyer Island. Because of their donkey-like braying
call they were previously named Jackass Penguins.
The presence of the penguin gave name to the Penguin Islands.
African penguins grow to 6870 cm (26.727.5 in) tall
and weigh between 2 and 5 kg (4.4 and 11 lb).
They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern
of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints.
They have pink glands above their eyes. When the penguin gets hot,,
the more blood is sent to these glands thus making the
glands more pink.
porpoise as they approach land
The males are larger than the females and have larger beaks. Their
distinctive black and white colouring is a vital form of camouflagewhite
for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators
looking down onto the dark water.
.Of the 1.5-million African Penguin population estimated in 1910,
only some 10% remained at the end of the 20th-century.
The uncontrolled harvesting of penguin eggs as a source of food,
disruption of habitat by guano scraping, nearly drove the
species to extinction.
penguins on Robben Island try to preen oil off feathers during
MV Treasure oil spill off Cape Town, South Africa in 2000.
Disaster struck on 23 June 2000, when the iron ore tanker MV Treasure
sank between Robben Island and Dassen Island,
South Africa, oiling 19,000 adult penguins at the height of the
best breeding season on record for this vulnerable species.
The oiled birds were brought to an abandoned train repair warehouse
in Cape Town to be cared for.
with eggs and visible brood patch
An additional 19,500 un-oiled penguins were removed from Dassen
Island and other areas before they became oiled,
and were released about a thousand kilometres east of Cape Town,
near Port Elizabeth. This gave workers enough time to
clean up the oiled waters and shores before the birds could complete
their long swim home (which took the penguins between
2 and 3 weeks).
Some of the penguins were named and radio-tracked
as they swam back to their breeding grounds. Tens of thousands of
volunteers descended upon Cape Town to help with the rescue and
rehabilitation process, which was overseen by IFAW (International
Fund for Animal Welfare) and the South African Foundation for the
Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB),
and took more than three months to complete. This was the largest
animal rescue event in history; more than 91% of the penguins
were successfully rehabilitated and released - an amazing feat that
could not have been accomplished without such a tremendous
two young chicks
Their predators in the ocean include sharks, cape fur seals and,
on occasion, orcas. Land-based enemies include mongoose,
genet, domestic cats and dogs - and the kelp gulls which steal their
eggs and new born chicks.
showing habitat and African penguins
bathing and climbing out onto the rocks
BBC Natural History Unit
for African Penguin
This includes several small islands off the coast of Southern Africa
Most text on this page from Wikipedia