In 2001, there were 56,000 pairs of African penguins in South Africa. Only 19,000 were left in 2012, according to South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs
Africa’s only species of penguin is at the risk of extinction.
The African penguins which were found in huge numbers on west coast of South Africa have faced an alarming decline in population over the years. The situation is worst in the north region of Cape Town where almost 90% population has been wiped out in just past 11 years. Almost 30,000 pairs of African penguins have been perished there from 2004 to 2015, according to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs.
The department suggests that the substantial decline in population is due to the lack of food. Penguins feed on fish like sardines and anchovy. Since the main prey of African penguins have migrated to Southeast waters, it has created a mismatch in the distributions of food.
In South Africa overall, the decline was noticed since the start of the 21ST century. There were about 56,000 pairs of African penguins in 2001 which reduced to just 19,000 pairs in 2012.
Since 2012, African penguin is classified as endangered species by International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are 17 species of penguin in the world. Out of which, five have been enlisted endangered. The endangered species of penguin are Yellow-eyed penguin, Erect-crested penguin, Northern Rockhopper penguin and Galapagos penguin.
African penguins are known for their donkey-like bray and pink patches on eyes. They are currently found in South Africa and neighboring Namibia. Their total population is around 80,000, according to IUCN.
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Department of Environmental Affairs is considering many strategies to increase the population of African penguins and to save them from becoming extinct. The strategies include establishment of new breeding sites close to penguin colonies to ensure the availability of food.