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
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
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 ElizabethThis 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
(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 international response.
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.
range for African Penguin
This includes several small islands off the coast of Southern Africa
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