Skip to content

Oil Spillage is the Biggest Threat to this African Bird Species

African penguin, recognised by their chest black horseshoe markings and their distinct bray-like calls, are native to South Africa and Namibia but can also be found in Mozambique. The last three decades have been riddled with symptoms of climate change and human activity such as overfishing and habitat destruction, which has seen their numbers fall by 60%. Scientists are also concerned about bunkering and consequential oil spills. A minor oil spill already occurred in 2017 and another last year with around 100 oil-drenched penguins being recovered by rangers. Seabird scientist Lorien Pichegru explains, “The oil on their feathers takes away their waterproofness,” In attempting to clean themselves, the penguins also ingest toxins shown to damage their internal organs and breeding capacity. In addition, oiled adults tend to abandon their eggs and chicks. Many eventually then die of starvation and cold. Scientists are studying the adverse effects of noise, pollution and increased ship traffic on marine animals.