International African Penguin Awareness Day 2022: Significance, history, and more

Observed on second Saturday of October every year, International African Penguin Awareness Day is marked to educate people on their situation

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Friday, October 07, 2022, 06:29 PM IST
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International African Penguin Awareness Day 2022 | sourced

We all loved watching penguin-inspired cartoon characters while growing up. And spotting a penguin is what most of us dream for. African penguins live along the coastal areas of South Africa. They are the only penguin species found in Africa.

History

International African Penguin Awareness Day began in 2010 as people needed to hear about the plight of the African penguin. Scientists estimate that these birds will become extinct within the next 15-20 years. So organizers hosted the first event on October 2, 2010.

Since then, the day transitioned to the second Saturday in October to coincide with the annual Penguin Festival in South Africa. Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) hosts the festival.

Features of African penguins

  • It is also known as the black-footed penguin or Cape penguin.

  • They grow up to 27 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 4 to 11 pounds.

  • These birds swim up to 12 mph and have been known to dive up to 426 feet.

  • Sharks, mongooses, seals, leopards, wild cats, leopards are predators of African penguins.

  • One distinctive feature of the bird is the pink glands above their eyes where they can send blood to keep themselves cool in the hot summer. The hotter a penguin is, the pinker its eyebrow glands will become.

  • Male African penguins are larger and have longer beaks than females.

  • To attract a mate, both females and males emit a braying-like sound similar to a donkey. That is why, African penguins are also known as jackass penguins (jackass is another name for a male donkey).

How the day is observed

Conducting penguin waddle contests, penguin-themed costume parties, and informational workshops.

One can even donate to a penguin conservation group. Support penguin rehabilitation at Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to help penguins recover from oil and injury caused by humans.

Share a photo or video of the African penguin on social media with #AfricanPenguinAwarenessDay.

Concerns

From the 1980s to the early 2000s, the African penguin population dropped by more than 60 percent. Many of the birds were lost to predators. African Penguins 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, causing shortage of food for them. Thus, the adult penguins have to swim further away from their nesting grounds to find food, which is dangerous for the offspring, as well as the adult birds. They are victims of human-made disasters such as oil spills and other human interventions.

In 2010 African penguins were officially listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

International African Penguin Awareness Day is a day which can make us aware about our activities harming this seabird and stop those so that penguins can become a thriving part of the ecosystem.

Unknown facts about penguins

  • 80-90% of all African penguin couples will stay together for their entire lives.

  • Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs, taking turns over a 40-day period.

  • They can see ultraviolet light.

  • They never need to drink fresh water as they swallow seawater and sneeze out the excess salt.

  • Research suggests that the raucous calls of the seabird follow linguistic patterns similar to some found in human language.

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