AFRICAN PENGUIN FACTS
The African Penguin is listed in the Red Data Book as a vulnerable species.
Of the 1.5 million African Penguin population estimated in 1910, only some 10% remained at the end of the 20th century. The uncontrolled harvesting of penguin eggs (as a source of food), and guano scraping, nearly drove the species to extinction.
Because of their donkey-like braying call they were previously named the Jackass Penguin. Since several species of South American penguins produce the same sound, the local birds have been renamed African Penguins, as they are the only example of the species that breed in Africa.
Their diet consists mainly of squid and shoal fish such as pilchards and anchovy. They can swim at an average speed of seven kilometers per hour, and can stay submerged for up to two minutes.
Their enemies in the ocean include sharks, Cape fur seals and, on occasion, killer whales (Orcas). Land-based enemies include mongoose, genet, domestic cats and dogs - and the Kelp Gulls which steal their eggs.
Their distinctive black and white coloring is a vital form of camouflage - white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down onto the water.
Although the African Penguin breeds throughout the year, the main breeding season starts in January. They are a monogamous species and the lifelong partners take turns to incubate their eggs and to feed their young.
Peak molting time is during December, after which they head out to sea to feed (since they do not feed during molting), They return in January to mate and begin nesting from about February to August.
Penguins have very sharp beaks and can cause serious injury if they bite or lunge.