With less than 25,000 breeding pairs in existence today, it is an uphill battle for the African Penguin, which calls South Africa home. The 60 percent drop in their population since 2001 has put them on the endangered species list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In some South African colonies, the drop in population has been as high as 80 percent. Competition with fisheries, oil spills, climate change, diseases and predators are all contributing factors in their dramatic decline.
To preserve this species and optimize rehabilitation efforts, an epidemiologist from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute joined forces with scientists from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). The facility, located near Cape Town, South Africa, receives more than 900 African Penguins for rehabilitation each year. While the success rate for the overall release of these penguins back into the wild is about 75 percent, limited data exists on the factors that contribute to their successful rehabilitation.
Photo: Paul Mannix/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)