Non-Antarctic penguins

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1997:

Yellow-eyed penguins, native to New Zealand
and the rarest penguin species, had increased from 230
breeding pairs to nearly 600 at the start of 1997, and were
believed to be making a comeback––but then at least 43 of
the penguins died in their primary habitat along the Otago
peninsula during January and February, along with four
albatrosses, apparently poisoned by a naturally occurring
biotoxin that afflicted squid, contaminating their food.
South African Foundation for the
Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) observers in
January reported identifications of two penguins who were
cleaned of oil and banded as fledglings in 1972, now living
on Dassen Island, and one, cleaned and ringed in 1973, at
St. Croix, Port Elizabeth. “When SANCCOB was launched
in 1968,” honorary vice president Althea Westphal said,
“scientists claimed that penguins lived for 16 years, but
these three were released 24 years ago,” at about age two.

SANCCOB and the South African Air Force cleaned nearly
1,700 penguins in November 1996, after the Panamanian
tanker Cordigliera sank off the Transkei coast, near the
Bird and St. Croix Isles. The 89,000 penguins who breed
there make up an estimated 60% of the African penguin
population. SANCCOB had to treat the first 980 penguins
at Ysterplaat Air Force Base because the SANCCOB sanctuary
was still under quarantine due to an October outbreak
of Newcastle disease that afflicted 220 penguins.
The Merley Bird Gardens in Wimborne,
Dorset, England, home of the penguins who co-starred
with comedy actor John Cleese in Fierce Creatures, was in
late March reportedly “desperately seeking new homes” for
10 Humboldt penguins. Two years ago the bird park put a
stable but aging resident colony of just 20 penguins on a
diet of vitamin-enriched sprat. At our April deadline, the
colony had increased to 50, with three new chicks and 19
more expected. “Our breeding program has worked too
well,” said park manager Kevin Martin. “Most breeders
celebrate if they produce three penguin chicks in a year.”
Jet skiers, apparently afraid their vehicles will
be banned if the fairy penguin colony at Manly, New
South Wales, Australia receives stronger protection, on
January 17 reportedly ran down as many penguins as they
could, killing at least six. The colony had 600 until shotgunners
killed 300 in a 1954 spree, then declined to 60.
The January attack wiped out all recent population gains.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.