African penguins could be extinct in decades

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African penguins, whose populations have declined rapidly over the past century, have been said to be extinct in the coming decades, experts say. This species of penguin, whose natural habitat is the southern coast of the African continent, is on the Red List of Threatened Animals of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Despite the efforts of volunteers, multiple human factors, from industrial fishing to fuel spills, continue to decimate the African penguin population. The African penguin population has fallen by 98% in a century. Research director Dr Katta Ludynia said that only 2% of the population remained at the start of the 20th century: “There were millions of penguins in the area at the start of the 20th century. The data of 2021 show that we have only 10,000 breeding pairs left in South Africa,” she said. Dr Ludynia pointed out that if 20,000 pairs lived on a single island in the region just 20 years ago, today there are only 10,000 pairs left in the whole country, underscoring the danger: “This decline is so dramatic that the models we have are disappearing in just a few decades. It shows that it can happen.” Noting that the main reason for population decline today is the lack of fish, Ludynia said this is due to overfishing of sardines and anchovies, which are penguins’ main nutrients, as part of the fishing industry developed in southern Africa. Ludynia also said that climate change, fuel leaks, underwater noise pollution caused by heavy shipping traffic and some disease outbreaks are major factors in the rapid extinction of the African penguin population. Resource Development Manager Ronnis Daniels pointed out that many more volunteers are needed for the penguin rescue and said they invite everyone in the world to volunteer for it. Daniels said, “Those who want to save African penguins can join our 6-week international volunteer program. Additionally, those who are unqualified can join our 3-month internship program.” He said the most important characteristic sought for those who will participate in the internship program is to take a strong stand to protect African penguin species.

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