African penguins were on track for extinction as breeding pairs continued to dwindle, according to scientific research by the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation.
If extra measures weren’t taken, by 2035, there probably wouldn’t be enough breeding pairs left for the species to survive in the wild, the research found.
“At the current rate of decline, over 500 breeding pairs of the iconic African penguins in the wild may be obliterated this year and every year for the next decade.
“While the South African government maintained already existing fishing closures around some of the African penguin colonies on August 4, it’s far from enough to make a significant impact and stop the plunge toward extinction,” the foundation said.
The #NotOnOurWatch campaign (#NOOW), established by the foundation and its South African and global partners, including the Florida Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium and Australia’s Zoos Victoria, are taking action.
Executive of strategic projects at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation and president of the International Zoo Educators Association, Dr Judy Mann, said: “Not on our watch will the African penguin go extinct in the wild. If fisheries, the South African government, oil and shipping companies, management agencies, scientists, conservationists, international allies, and the public work together, we can stop African penguin numbers from declining every year.”
“One of the biggest challenges is food availability. With fish stocks collapsing and fewer sardines available, African penguins are struggling to get enough food. Colony management, habitat for breeding, disease, predation by seals and gulls and the impact of storms and flooding are added challenges for the African penguin,” said Mann.
Other threats included oil pollution near African penguin colonies and increased noise pollution, which was detrimental to penguins and other marine species.
The campaign wants penguin-lovers to email their encouragement to Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy to help prevent the extinction.
Visit www.africanpenguins.org to hit a button and send the letter and to find out more.