Endangered African penguins with multiple bee stings found dead

More than 60 endangered African penguins were recently found dead, all with multiple bee stings and no other external injuries, accordin...


More than 60 endangered African penguins were recently found dead, all with multiple bee stings and no other external injuries, according to officials in a coastal town in South Africa where the birds migrate regularly.

Sixty-three dead African penguins were found on Friday in Boulders Penguin Colony, in Simon’s Town, about 25 miles south of Cape Town in the southwest of the country.

All of the penguins had multiple bee stings, and “numerous dead bees were found at the site where the birds died,” according to a statement from South African National Parks. “Therefore, preliminary investigations suggest that the penguins died after being stung by a swarm of Cape honey bees.”

No external physical injury was seen on any of the dead penguins, the statement said.

Penguins migrate through the region every year. Bees found near dead birds are native to the region, “generally coexist with wildlife” and “do not sting unless provoked,” according to Dr Alison Kock, marine biologist at South Africa’s national parks.

“We’ve never had a problem like this before,” she said.

The penguins had been stung around the eyes and on their fins, areas not covered with feathers, Dr Kock said.

“The feathers on the penguin’s body are densely packed and it is unlikely that bee stings could have penetrated through these feathers,” Dr Kock said in an email. “On the other hand, the skin around the eyes and fins has no feathers and the stings could get into these areas.”

Tests are underway to determine if a toxin or disease was a factor in the penguins’ deaths, park officials said. So far, officials believe the honeycomb has been disturbed, causing “a mass of bees to flee from the nest, swarm and they have become defensive and aggressive,” said Dr Kock. “Unfortunately, the bees encountered a group of penguins on their flight path.”

African penguins are an endangered species with a population of just around 41,700 adults in 2020, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Red List of Threatened Species.

The birds live primarily in coastal areas of Namibia and South Africa, according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and can grow up to 28 inches in height and 11 pounds in weight. They come ashore reproduce, get rid of old feathers and rest.

Two oil spills in 1994 and 2000 killed around 30,000 penguins, according to the foundation.

The bird population was descending because overfishing has reduced their food source, according to Oceana, a conservation group.

But penguins are increasingly recognized.

The summer migration of African penguins to Simon’s Town was recently featured in a Netflix documentary, “Penguin Town,” narrated by actor Patton Oswalt.

“Some penguins can be emperors,” says Oswalt. “In this place, they are gods. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Endangered African penguins with multiple bee stings found dead
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