Home

    The African penguin or spheniscus demersus, is the only penguin that can be found in Africa. There are about 24 known species living on islands located between Namibia and Algoa Bay in South Africa. The African Penguin is under strict protection hence the fact that it is an endangered species. Every year the population decreases by 2% making the penguins have to fact the constant threat of extinction.

    On the same topic, African Penguins have a very eccentric identification that only the Humbolt Penguin can be anywhere close too. The African Penguin's range in size from 60-70cm or 23-27in long.  Adult penguins have black on the top and white on the bottom and throughout the body there is a varied amount of black spots on the  breast and belly. Broad, black breast-bands and black-and-white facial patterns cover the rest of the body. On the other hand, immature or younger penguins have a gray-face unlike the adults black face. Also, younger penguins lack the spotted pattern of adults. African Penguins usually only develop these spots as they mature or become older. Male and female penguins look almost identical, it is very difficult to tell the gender of a penguin without doing a special test.

    In addition to the identification being eccentric, the way these penguins communicate and breed is not comparable to any other penguin out there. The African Penguin’s make a donkey like braying sound that they make during courtship rituals. When breeding, African Penguins usually don’t travel much; some of the most popular places where they breed is Hollamsbird Island, off central Namibia, to

Bird Island in Algoa Bay. African Penguins start breeding between two to six years of age, but normally at four years. African Penguins are monogamous, which means that they stay with the same mate and will generally return to the same colony each year. Often the same nest site each year too. The nests are usually under bushes and bolders. The eggs are laid in pairs and both parents help incubate the eggs. Once the chicks have hatched both parents help out and feed the newly born penguins. After 2-4 years the chicks mature and lay their own eggs.

    Finally, although these penguins are eccentric animals the conservation status and life today is decreasing each year due to human and animal threats. There are only 70,000 to 80,000 african penguins left, African penguin numbers have been going down because of a series of many  man-made threats and problems for over a century, and these threats are still occurring today in the wild. Also, African Penguins have had a drastic shortage of food which is caused by commercial “purse-seine fishing”. Although these birds are breathtaking to see, tourists break and collapse the nests making breeding for the penguin pair to come to an end. On top of this, oil spills have also contributed to the rapidly decreasing penguin population.  For example, feral cats prey on the penguin nests, and guano (which is a excrement nest for birds) removal forces nesting in the sun, where heat or flooding may destroy the eggs. In the 20th century this is when the population decreased the most due to humans eating the eggs as a gourmet food.

    In conclusion, altho many efforts are underway to help save the African Penguin, including strict protection of the birds and also of their guano. Birds that have been caught in an oil spill are being rehabilitated with an approximate 80% chance of success. And a limited captive breeding program is being organized in Cape Town, South Africa. Small fiberglass igloos are being placed at breeding sites where a guano was removed from ethier a predator or a human, and the birds are more than willing to use these artificial nests for shelter and protection from both weather and predators. One of the main organizations that are helping is the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.