INCREASED DEATH TOLL IN AFRICAN PENGUIN POPULATION WORRIES CONSERVATIONISTS

CAPE TOWN--Charismatic and entertaining, the African penguin draws birdwatchers and tourists to the beaches around Cape Town in South Africa, but a string of abnormal deaths among the population has alarmed local environmental officials.

One of the most popular beaches for these flightless birds, which are often known as the jackass penguin for its donkey-like braying, is Boulders Beach just outside Cape Town.

The Boulders population has been estimated at around 1,700 but since January, the Western Cape Local Government and the South African Environmental Affairs Department says it has recorded 18 abnormal penguin deaths with four of these cases confirmed as avian influenza.

The African penguin is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List with the numbers steadily declining in the last 100 years.

Officials have warned the public to refrain from handling any species of dead birds in their gardens and the beaches.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK