International African Penguin Awareness Day is observed every second Saturday of October and on October 14 this year, you are going to come down with the worst case of cuteness overload you have ever had in your life. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘penguin’ is ice-cold weather, but that’s not the case for the African Penguin. In fact, there are certain species of penguins that live in warm climates. The Galapagos penguin, the northernmost of these species, lives right on the equator.
History of International African Penguin Awareness Day
Penguins have a special place in our hearts, thanks to the penguin-inspired cartoon characters we all grew up loving. Whether it be the stop motion penguins or the dancing penguins, and even our dearest skipper and private trying to escape from the New York Zoo, penguins have never failed to garner our adoration.
African penguins are a species of penguins found on the African continent. African Penguin Awareness Day is celebrated each year with the aim of raising awareness around the plight of African penguins and their rapid decline in numbers.
The number of African Penguins has declined dramatically in the last century. The current estimates suggest a grim number, with only 60,000–70,000 individual birds left in the wild. Scientists estimate that these birds will become extinct in the wild within the next 15 to 20 years.
The availability of a sufficient food source is one of the biggest threats these birds face at the moment. The African Penguin relies heavily on small fish such as anchovies and sardines, which are in short supply due to overfishing as well as the changes in the marine ecosystem caused by climate change. The adult penguins have to swim further and further away from their nesting grounds to find food, which is potentially dangerous for the offspring, as well as the adult birds.
Other factors such as pollution, habitat loss, predation by marine and terrestrial animals, disease, and other human interventions are also contributing to the continued decline in penguin numbers.
International African Penguin Awareness Day is our chance to help these majestic birds once again become a thriving part of the ecosystem, so they continue to preserve the special place they have in our hearts for many years to come.
International African Penguin Awareness Day timeline
Roughly four million African penguins exist at the beginning of the 19th century.
Out of the 1.5 million African penguins estimated in 1910, only about 10% remain at the end of the 20th century.
The total penguin population is estimated at 55,000.
In 2019, the total breeding population across South Africa and Namibia falls to a historic low of about 20,850 pairs.
International African Penguin Awareness Day FAQs
What is the average lifespan of an African penguin?
The average lifespan of an African penguin is 10 to 27 years in the wild, and they can live up to 30 years in captivity.
Do penguins mate for life?
Some penguin species mate for life. Gentoo, rockhoppers, and chin straps species are monogamous. Adelie females find their old mates within a few minutes of arriving at the colony each season.
What do African penguins do during the day?
Non-breeding African penguins cope with the heat by spending most of the day at sea, regularly swimming, or loafing on the beach in groups. Penguins that are out in the open during the day usually turn their backs to the sun, so that their feet, flippers, and face are shaded.
How to Observe International African Penguin Awareness Day
Recycle reuse and if possible, avoid using plastic as much as possible. When choosing food items, make sure to pick only sustainably sourced seafood and species on SASSI’s green list. Remember, even the smallest efforts can bring about the biggest changes.
One must obey the rules when visiting local penguin colonies. You must not try to get very close to the penguins even if the cuteness is hard to resist, maintain at least three meters between you and the birds. No one likes rude guests!
Do your part
Be a good citizen of this planet and contribute as much as you can. Educate yourself and others around you about the plight of African penguins and do your part in ensuring the survival of these marvelous birds.
5 Facts About Penguins That Will Make You Melt
A group of penguins is called a raft
A group of penguins in water is called a raft. Penguins spend up to 80% of their lives out at sea.
Penguins don't have teeth
They swallow fish with the help of fleshy spines inside their mouths.
Penguin “suits” act as camouflage
Their black-backs white front helps disguise them from predators.
Penguins are waterproof
Oil produced by the preen gland insulates their bodies and improves hydrodynamics.
Male penguins gift rocks
Many male penguins give rocks to female penguins to woo them — females use rocks to build a nest.
Why International African Penguin Awareness Day is Important
Penguins are important for the environment
They are an integral part of our ecosystem. Penguins feces help fertilize the landscape with nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic carbon. They are an important part of the food chain acting as prey to predators like leopards, seals, orcas, and seabirds in colder regions and pumas, mongooses, and crabs in warmer climates.
Penguins are amazing
Penguins are super swimmers with speeds reaching over 10 miles per hour. They can jump up to seven feet in the air and also dive down to depths of 1800 feet in the water. Penguins would be unbeatable if they were to participate in the Olympics!
Penguins are smart
Penguins don’t just look sharp but are extremely intelligent creatures. They are highly capable creatures that are known to be self-aware. They use tools and communicate with each other, and have been observed to form intricate communities and hierarchies in groups.
International African Penguin Awareness Day dates