Investigations are underway following the tragic deaths of 63 African penguins inside the Boulders African penguin colony in Simonstown, which was recently made world famous by the Netflix show ‘Penguin Town‘ which featured the endangered African penguins.
The penguins were found dead on Friday morning, 17 September 2021. It’s believed they died suddenly some time between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, the South African National parks (SANParks) said in a statement.
Officials, expert advisors and veterinarians from SANParks, the City of Cape Town and penguin experts from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), have started investigating the possible cause of death.
The dead birds were transported to SANCCOB for post-mortems, and biological samples were sent for disease and toxicology testing.
No external physical injuries were observed on any of the birds. The post-mortems revealed that all the penguins had multiple bee stings, and many dead bees were found at the site where the birds had died.
“Therefore preliminary investigations suggest that the penguins died because of being stung by a swarm of Cape honey bees,” said SANParks.
A dead penguin was also found on Fish Hoek beach yesterday which the SANCCOB vet has confirmed also had multiple bee stings. However, samples are still being tested for other toxicity possibilities and diseases to rule out any other potential cause.
Dr Alison Kock, SANParks Marine Biologist, says: “We are grateful to all our conservation partners, especially SANCCOB and the City of Cape Town, for assisting us in investigating this unusual event. No more dead African penguins were found on site today, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”