African Penguins. Boulders, Cape Town.
by John Downey
Of 1.5-million African Penguins estimated in 1910, only 10% remained at the end of the 20th Century. African penguin populations, which breed in Namibia and South Africa, have declined by 95 percent since preindustrial times.
As of the mid-Twentieth Century, penguin eggs were considered a delicacy and still being collected for sale. Unfortunately, the practice was to smash eggs found a few days prior to gathering, ensuring only the freshest were sold. This added to drastic decline of the penguin population around the Cape coast, exacerbated by removal of guano from islands for fertilizer, eliminating burrowing material. Penguins remain susceptible to pollution of their habitat by petrochemical spills, shipwrecks and tanker cleaning at sea.
Approximately 4 million African Penguins thrived at the beginning of the last century. The population fell to 200,000 in 2000. In 2010, they numbered 55000. If the decline is not halted, the African Penguin is expected to be extinct within 15 years.