26 February 2017

New guidance on hand-rearing decisions for endangered penguin chicks

African penguin chicks. Photo credit: SANCCOB.
SOUTH AFRICA – Researchers have developed a model to provide guidance on the likelihood of abandoned African penguin chicks surviving after they are admitted to rehabilitation.

Developed by researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Cape Town, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and Bristol Zoological Society, it is the first model of its kind.

The use of rehabilitation for conservation is growing worldwide, with many research papers monitoring the success of individuals after their release. Rearing chicks that are unlikely to survive naturally could significantly contribute to the conservation of threatened bird species such as the African penguin.

22 February 2017

New study reveals over two decades of penguins' diets

Gentoo penguin chicks. Photo credit: BAS.
ANTARCTICA – The longest and most comprehensive study to date of what penguins eat has been published this month in the journal Marine Biology. It examines the diets of gentoo penguins at Bird Island, South Georgia over a 22-year period and is part of a project investigating the Southern Ocean ecosystem and its response to change.

Penguin parents forage at sea returning to feed their chicks every day. The research team, based at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), found that between 1989 and 2010 gentoo penguins ate approximately equal amounts of crustaceans (mainly Antarctic krill) and fish.

15 February 2017

Endangered African penguins are falling into an 'ecological trap'

AFRICA – As the climate changes and fisheries transform the oceans, the world's African penguins are in trouble, according to researchers reporting in Current Biology on 9 February. Young penguins aren't able to take all the changes into account and are finding themselves "trapped" in parts of the sea that can no longer support them even as better options are available.

"Our results show that juvenile African penguins are stuck foraging for food in the wrong places due to fishing and climate change," said Richard Sherley of the University of Exeter and University of Cape Town.

12 February 2017

Buster the penguin busted up again

NEW ZEALAND – The yellow-eyed penguin hospital at Otago Polytechnic’s School of Veterinary Nursing is full with healing penguins. One is even back for a second visit with wildlife vet Lisa Argilla.

Dr Argilla recognised the unlucky penguin while checking huge gashes across his abdomen and right foot. He was her patient in 2015 when he was flown to her at Wellington Zoo for treatment.  At that time, she had to amputate his right toe. She nicknamed the bird “Buster” and hoped that was the last she’d see of him. But he was recently found injured at Papanui Beach on Otago Peninsula.

07 February 2017

Annual monitoring shows yellow-eyed penguin numbers still a concern

NEW ZEALAND – The Department of Conservation (DOC), Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and others have completed the annual yellow-eyed penguin monitoring along the Otago and Southland coastline. It's estimated that there are 260 breeding pairs.

This number is still of concern given historically there were between 400 to 600 breeding pairs and the current number is a repeat of last year – the lowest for 25 years.

21 January 2017

Penguin hospital opens in Otago

NEW ZEALAND  –  This (southern hemisphere) summer is looking a lot brighter for Otago’s yellow-eyed penguins. They now have their very own local hospital set up at Otago Polytechnic's School of Veterinary Nursing.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust successfully raised enough money to contract wildlife veterinarian Lisa Argilla for a second year. She has moved to Dunedin for the summer to care for injured penguins and said she couldn’t do it without the facility at Otago Polytechnic.

18 January 2017

Yellow-eyed penguins at risk from new NZ climate record

NEW ZEALAND - Increasing temperatures will have disastrous consequences for New Zealand's wildlife - including yellow-eyed penguins - unless the Government acts urgently to cut emissions and fund environmental research, says conservation organisation Forest & Bird.

Figures released this month by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) show that 2016 was the hottest year on record for New Zealand, in line with a new global record announced by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service last week.

“Yellow eyed penguins, kea, and tuatara are already showing some signs of climate change induced stress. The consequences for these and many other native species will be severe unless the Government starts leading the way in cutting emissions and funding adaptation research,” said Forest & Bird's Chief Executive, Kevin Hague.