(Last Updated On: February 2, 2021)

The African penguin, the scientific name Spheniscus demersus, also referred to as the Cape penguin or South African penguin, is a popular species of penguin that are confined to southern African waters with many interesting facts.

African Penguin facts

Like all extant penguins, it’s flightless, with a streamlined body and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh a median of two.2–3.5 kg (4.9–7.7 lb) and are 60–70 cm (24–28 in) tall.

The species has distinctive pink patches of pores and skin above the eyes and black facial masks. The body upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white underparts, which are noticed and marked with a black band.

The pink glands above their eyes assist them with thermoregulation. To deal with altering temperatures, blood is shipped to the glands to be cooled by the air.

African penguin classification

Scientific Name: Spheniscus demersus
Conservation Status: Endangered
Lifespan: 10 – 15+ years in the wild; as much as 25 years in human care
Adult Size: Around 2 ft tall and around 7 lb
Diet within the wild: Fish, squid, and crustaceans
Habitat: Rocky, temperate, coastal seashores
Range: Found alongside the coastlines of South Africa

Appearance

The African Penguin is a reasonably distinctive species of a penguin with clear black and white markings and a sharply pointed black beak.

The African Penguin additionally has black feet and quite a few dot-like markings flecked throughout its white chest that is mentioned to be as distinctive to the person Penguin as a Human fingerprint is, together with a slim black band.

The male African Penguin is usually barely bigger than their feminine counterparts however each is pretty related in look. One of the African Penguin’s most distinctive options is that they’ve pink glands above their eyes which assist them to deal with temperate climates.

The hotter the African Penguin will get, the more blood is shipped to those glands so it could be cooled by the encircling air, which in flip, makes these glands pinker.

African Penguin Distribution and Habitat facts

The African Penguin is discovered on the south-western coast of Africa, dwelling in 27 colonies on 24 islands between Namibia and Algoa Bay, close to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with the biggest colony discovered on Dyer Island, close to Kleinbaai.

African Penguins are most densely distributed across the chilly, nutrient-wealthy waters of the Benguela Current the place there’s a plentiful provide of meals. Although they spend a lot of their time at sea, African Penguins collect in nesting websites on rocky islands the place they spend their days in sheltered burrows to keep away from the recent solar.

They are one of many solely Penguin species to be present in non-freezing circumstances and deal with this by burrowing, rising at nightfall and daybreak, and utilizing the pink glands above their eyes to chill the blood down.

African penguin Behavior and Lifestyle facts

The African penguin is a pursuit diver and feeds totally on fish and squid. Once extraordinarily quite a few, the African penguin is declining quickly on account of a mix of a number of threats and is classed as endangered.

It is a charismatic species and is widespread with vacationers. Other vernacular names of the species embody black-footed penguin and jackass penguin, as a result of species’ loud, donkey-like bray, though a number of associated species of South American penguins produce the identical sound.

They may be present in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Mozambique.

Like many different Penguin species, African Penguins are extremely sociable birds, with adults forming pair bonds that final for all times (as long as 10 years).

African Penguins can typically be seen grooming each other, which isn’t solely sensible for cleansing functions, but additionally for eradicating parasites and even simply rearranging feathers, always strengthening the social bond between the pair.

Their courtship shows are sometimes very noisy because the female and male Penguin call to one another utilizing a collection of donkey-like sounds.

African Penguins are additionally recognized to undergo a spot of bathing just a few meters from the shore, which they’re thought to do fairly usually to each clear and to chill themselves down within the warmth.

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African Penguin Description facts

African penguins develop to 60–70 cm (24–28 in) tall and weigh between 2.2–3.5 kg (4.9–7.7 lb). They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of which is exclusive to every penguin, like human fingerprints.

The sweat glands above the eyes cool the birds’ blood, and because the temperature rises, elevated blood move causes the glands to get more pink. This species reveals slight sexual dimorphism; the males are barely bigger than the females and have longer beaks.

Juveniles don’t possess the daring, delineated markings of the grownup, however as an alternative have darkish upperparts that modify from greyish-blue to brown; the pale underparts lack each spot and the band.

The beak is more pointed than that of the Humboldt. The African penguin’s coloring is a type of protecting coloration often known as countershading. The white undersides of the birds are tough to identify by predators underneath the water, and the penguins’ black backs mix in with the water when seen from above.

African penguins resemble and are regarded as associated with the Humboldt, Magellanic, and Galápagos penguins. African penguins have a really recognizable look, with a thick band of black that within the form of an upside-down horseshoe.

They have black feet and black spots that modify in size and form between people. Magellanic penguins share an identical bar marking that always confuses the 2; Magellanics have a double bar on the throat and chest, whereas the African has a single bar. These penguins have the nickname “jackass penguin”, which comes from the loud noises they make.

African Penguin Life Cycles facts

African Penguins start to breed at the common age of 4 when a female and male will pair up and have a tendency to breed collectively for the remainder of their lives.

The feminine African Penguin both digs herself a burrow or finds a dip beneath a rock or bush, by which she lays two eggs. The eggs are incubated by each parent for as much as 40 days when solely one of many eggs will often hatch.

The African Penguin chicks are fed and stored heat by their parents always till they’re a month old after they start to be left on their very own, forming crèches with different chicks for cover from predators.

They have a tendency to stay with their parents till they’re between 3 and 5 months old, when they may depart the colony (that is dependant although on the availability and high quality of meals within the space).

The chicks return to the colony after a few years to moult into their grownup plumage. African Penguins usually dwell for between 10 and 15 years.

Threats

Global-warming-induced shifts within the marine and atmospheric atmosphere are damaging to the African penguin’s habitat and are a significant risk to the bird. Other extreme threats embody guano and egg assortment at breeding colonies, oil air pollution, and business fishing.

African Penguin Diet, foraging, and Prey facts

African penguins forage within the open sea, the place they pursue pelagic fish equivalent to sardines and anchovies (particularly the Southern African anchovy), and marine invertebrates equivalent to squid and small crustaceans.

Penguins usually swim inside 20 km (12 mi) of the shore. A penguin could eat as much as 540 grams (1.19 lb) of prey every single day, however, this will improve to over 1 kg (2.2 lb) when elevating older chicks.

Due to the collapse of a business pilchard (sardine) fishery in 1960, the African penguin’s diet has shifted in direction of anchovies to some extent, though out there pilchard biomass continues to be a notable determinant of penguin inhabitants growth and breeding success. While a diet of anchovy seems to be usually ample, it’s not ultimate on account of anchovies’ decrease concentrations of fats and protein.

Penguin diet adjustments all through the year; as in lots of seabirds, it’s believed that the interplay of diet selection and breeding success helps the penguins keep their inhabitants size.

Although parent penguins are protecting their hatchlings, they won’t incur dietary deficits themselves if the prey is scarce and searching requires a better time or energy dedication. This could result in higher charges of brood loss underneath poor meal circumstances.

When foraging, African penguins perform dives that attain a median depth of 25 m (82 ft) and final for 69 s, though the most depth of 130 m (430 ft) and period of 275 s has been recorded.

The African Penguin is a carnivorous animal that, like all different Penguin species, survives on a diet that’s solely comprised of marine organisms.

Shoaling fish together with Anchovies, Sardines, Horse Mackerel, and Round Herrings make up the majority of the African Penguin’s diet, together with the occasional Squid or Crustacean when regular meals are briefly provided.

The streamlined body of the African Penguin permits it to maneuver by the water like a rocket, able to reach a top pace of around 20 kph when attempting to find meals.

African Penguins catch their prey by diving into the ocean depths for around 2 minutes at a time. Although they usually go to depths of around 30 meters, it’s not unusual for them to be discovered searching more than 100 meters beneath the water’s floor.

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Predators

Primary predators of African penguins embody sharks and fur seals. While nesting, kelp gulls, mongooses, caracals, Cape genets, and home cats and dogs could prey on the penguins and their chicks.

Mortality from terrestrial predators is higher if penguins are compelled to breed within the open within the absence of appropriate burrows or nest packing containers.

African Penguin Reproduction facts

The African penguin is monogamous. It breeds in colonies, and pairs return to the identical web site every year. The African penguin has an extended breeding season, with nesting often peaking from March to May in South Africa and November to December in Namibia.

A clutch of two eggs is laid both in burrows dug in guano, or scrapes within the sand underneath boulders or bushes. Incubation is undertaken equally by each parent for around 40 days.

At least one parent guards the chicks for about one month, whereafter the chicks be part of a crèche with different chicks, and each parent head out to sea to forage every day.

Chicks fledge at 60 to 130 days, the timing relying on environmental elements equivalent to the standard and availability of meals. The fledged chicks then go to sea on their very own, the place they spend the next one to just about two years. They then return to their natal colony to molt into grownup plumage.

When penguins molt, they’re unable to forage as their new feathers aren’t but waterproof; due to this fact, they quick over the complete molting interval. African penguins take around three weeks to molt and lose nearly half their body weight by utilizing up their fats reserves within the process.

Female African penguins stay fertile for 10 years. African penguins spend most of their lives at sea till it comes time for them to put their eggs. Due to high predation on the mainland, African penguins will search for safety on offshore islands, the place they’re safer from bigger mammals and natural challenges. These penguins often breed in the course of the winter when temperatures are decreasing.

African penguins typically will abandon their eggs in the event that they change into overheated within the scorching solar, and deserted eggs don’t survive the warmth.

Ideally, eggs are incubated in a burrow dug into the guano layer (which gives appropriate temperature regulation), however the widespread human elimination of guano deposits has rendered any such nest unfeasible at many colonies. To compensate, penguins dig holes within the sand, breed within the open, or make use of nest packing containers if they’re supplied.

The penguins spend three weeks on land to offer for his or her offspring, after which chicks could also be left alone in the course of the day whereas the parents forage.

The chicks are steadily killed by predators or succumb to the recent solar. The eggs are three to 4 instances greater than hen’s eggs. Parents often feed hatchlings throughout nightfall or daybreak.

Exclusive Facts

Penguins have more feathers than some other bird, which act as a water-proof layer holding their pores and skin dry. African Penguins moult as soon as a year which they do back of their colonies.

The entire process lasts for about 20 days, by which time, the African Penguins can not swim or eat, and may lose nearly half of their body weight. African Penguins are recognized to spend long intervals of time fishing out at sea, and relying on the realm, can journey between 30 and 110 km in a single journey.

However, these African Penguins who’ve chicks to feed, will hardly ever go that far, catching meals nearer to the shore, and as rapidly as possible. The African Penguin is also referred to as the Jackass penguin, as a result of the donkey-like call that they make throughout their courtship rituals.

Fun Facts

The sole penguin species present in Africa.
These penguins dig nest-burrows, with guano (feces of seabirds and seals) being the popular nesting substrate. The elimination of guano for business functions forces penguins to nest on the floor within the sand underneath the shelter of bushes. These sand nests improve susceptibility to warmth stress and prepared entry to predators.
Males are bigger than females, with bigger beaks.
African penguins are monogamous; they mate with the identical particular person for a few years.
They can swim as much as 12mph. A common dive of an African penguin lasts 2.5 minutes, and is usually about 98 ft in-depth, though depths of as much as 426 ft have been recorded.
Also referred to as jackass penguins as a result of they emit a loud, braying, donkey-like call.
They have a small pink gland above every eye, which helps them deal with high temperatures. Blood is shipped to the glands the place it’s cooled by the encircling air and retains the animal cooler. The glands get pinker the warmer it will get.

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Conservation standing

The African penguin is likely one of the species to which the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) applies. In September 2010, it was listed as endangered underneath the US Endangered Species Act. As of 2018, the African penguin is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Its population is roughly 50,000 birds and declining. Learn more about Safari-tour-guide.

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