Humans said reason for penguin decline

Aug. 22, 2012 at 6:57 PM
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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A massive population decline in penguins in Africa is mainly due to human behavior, the South African Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs says.

The population of the African Penguin -- endemic to Southern Africa, and the only penguin that breeds in Africa -- has declined to about 2.5 percent of its level 80 years ago, the report said. The decline has led to the species being listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of endangered species.

Between the 1920s and the mid 1950s, as many as 48 percent of all eggs produced were harvested for human consumption, the ministry said in a report.

Changes in penguin habitat at seabird islands due to guano collection have contributed to the decline, and large oil spills have also affected penguin numbers, the report said.

"There is considerable concern about the poor conservation status of penguins and that they may become extinct in the future if drastic conservation steps are not immediately implemented," the report concluded.

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