The African penguin is a species of bird that is found on the southernmost coast of Africa. The African penguin is the only species of penguin that is found on the African continent. The African penguin is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The population has declined by more than 60% in the past three generations. It is estimated that there are only 60,000 breeding pairs of African penguins.
The main threats to the population of African Penguins include commercial fisheries and oil pollution. The high demand for fish has resulted in overfishing which leaves very little prey available for the African penguin. Oil spills can be very harmful to the African penguin, especially if their feathers become contaminated and they ingest the oil while preening.
Concerned environmental groups have developed ways to protect the African penguin. By-catch reduction devices which allow multiple sea creatures to escape from nets, may allow fisheries to continue without harming as many of the penguins. Coastal development has also been minimized in areas where African penguins live and breed.
There is an ongoing breeding and ecological study of the African penguin at Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. The Breeding and Ecology Study was designed to observe the effects of oil spills on African penguins. It also monitors their success at breeding as well as survival rates among the young.
Since the development of the Breeding and Ecology study, it has become apparent that conservation efforts can make a difference in the survival rates of African penguins. For example, before the development of the conservation efforts around Boulders Beach, only 10% of birds survived their first year. Now 99% survive their first year.