Tuesday, September 25, 2007

St Croix penguins in ‘dismal‘ state as population plunges

Scientists reported a sharp drop over four months in the African penguin population on St Croix Island, and heavy gull predation on abandoned nests.

The report comes in the wake of Marine and Coastal Management‘s (MCM) warning in April that African penguin numbers were sliding across its range but that the situation was worst in Algoa Bay.

Dr Isabelle Papadopoulos, an estuarine ecologist working at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, said last week she had made the observation while assisting a Belgian colleague.

“The numbers seemed to be right down from what we observed in January and the birds looked very thin and were not their normal active selves. It was dismal,” she said.

“A lot of nests were abandoned and gulls were feasting on eggs and small chicks.”

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