Two weeks ago, SANParks rangers and Sanccob monitors discovered the penguins dead in the Boulders African penguin colony in Simon’s Town. File picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency
Two weeks ago, SANParks rangers and Sanccob monitors discovered the penguins dead in the Boulders African penguin colony in Simon’s Town. File picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency

Cause of death of 63 Boulders penguins most likely bee stings, says Sanccob vet

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Sep 30, 2021

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Cape Town - The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) vet who investigated the death of the 63 African penguins found in the Boulders African penguin colony has ruled out any other causes and diseases besides bee stings.

Sanccob veterinarian Dr David Roberts found the penguins to be negative for avian flu and other diseases.

Two weeks ago, SANParks rangers and Sanccob monitors discovered the penguins dead in the Boulders African penguin colony in Simon’s Town.

The deaths were thought to have occurred between Thursday afternoon, September 16, and Friday morning, September 17.

Officials, expert advisers and vets from SANParks and the City, as well as penguin experts from Sanccob, immediately began investigating the possible cause.

Earlier this week, SANParks announced the results, saying that while Roberts found no other possible causes or diseases that could have led to the death of the endangered birds, the weight of evidence supported the finding that the penguins died from multiple bee stings.

SANParks spokesperson Lauren Clayton said: “Following the incident, investigators conducted an extensive site assessment and found dead Cape honey bees on site.

“They also subsequently found a small colony of bees close to the site that had not been there at the beginning of the week.

“We don’t know the origin of the bees that stung the penguins or what could have disturbed them as rangers would have recorded their presence during their regular patrols inside the colony.

“We cannot say whether or not this was the source of the bees that stung the penguins.

“The bees, however, were moved to a safe place away from the penguin colony inside the protected area of the Table Mountain National Park,” said Clayton.

Roberts said: “In total 63 African penguins died; no more were found dead from bee stings and there were none sent for rehabilitation in regards to this incident.

“The threats to African penguins are not bees or other rare events like this one, but rather food scarcity, pollution, predators and climate change impacts, like heat waves, flooding and storm surges.”

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