How much energy do African penguins extract from the sea?

African Penguins

WWF-SA/Peter Chadwick

African penguins are severely under threat and are now considered Endangered by the World Conservation Union. Their populations have decreased by over 90% since the turn of the last century, initially as a result of egg collecting and guano scraping but more recently as a result of competition between man and penguins for a source of food – sardines and anchovies.

The Responsible Fisheries Alliance has embarked on a project to better understand the energy requirements of African penguins at different sites within the penguins’ distribution and at different stages of their life cycle. This new information will contribute to a growing database of information on other dependent predators such as the Cape gannet. The additional use of logger technology will assist in assessing the areas in which prey is caught and where the birds spend the majority of their time at sea.

This is critical information needed for the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries management, as it can be used for modelling different foraging efficiency, food abundance and availability scenarios. With the combined scientific expertise of the parties involved, results and conclusions of this study can be translated into practical solutions to appropriately design and formulate long-term conservation strategies (e.g. Marine Protected Areas) for the African penguin, and to improve management of fisheries so as to avoid undue competition between man and penguins.

Click on the attachment below to view the project findings: