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African Penguin

African Penguin
African Penguin

African Penguin

African Penguin :

The size of the African penguin is small to medium in size relative to the penguin species that are found along the coast of South Africa and on a number of surrounding islands .

It is noticeable that the African penguin is closely related to the Humboldt penguin and the Magellan penguin , which were found in southern South America , and the African penguin was named by this name because it is the only species of the bird family that was found living on the African coast .

African Penguin - Anatomy and Appearance :

The African penguin is a somewhat distinct species of penguin with black and white markings and a black beak . And black feet with some white spots on the chest , which are for each bird separately and are like human fingerprints . And male African penguins are slightly larger than females . 

One of the hallmarks of the African penguin is the presence of pink glands above their eyes that help them acclimate to temperate climates . When the weather is hot , more blood is sent to these glands , and the glands cool it by the surrounding air , and the blood returns to the rest of the organs and has been cooled .

African Penguin and Geographical Distribution :

The African penguin is found on the southwest coast of Africa , on the 27 islands near Namibia near Port Elizabeth , South Africa . Most of the crowded African penguins are distributed around the rich , cold waters where there is an abundant supply of food . Although the African penguin spends most of its time in the sea , but in times of hot sun they try to hide and take shelter in their burrows to avoid the hot rays of the sun . 

The African penguin is the only type of penguin that has been found living in such a hot environment and not like the rest of the known penguins that live in the icy environment, but they try to adapt to this environment by hiding among the burrows in times of hot sun and going out for food at dusk and dawn , in addition to using The pink glands above their eyes to constantly cool the blood .

African Penguin and Lifestyle :

Like many other types of penguins , the African penguin lives in colonies or large herds , and during the mating season , when the male chooses his partner , it is difficult to separate and their marriage may extend for nearly 10 years . The male cannot be inclined to another female as long as he has a female , and we find the spouses always in a state of family bonding , as they often clean the feathers and remove parasites and even arrange the feathers for each other constantly , which always strengthens the bond between the spouses . 

We also find the interconnectedness between all the members of the herd through the issuance of a series of sounds always similar to the caw of a donkey in order to communicate with each other . And always the African penguin goes swimming nearby on the beach a few meters away and believes that this behavior is not for the purpose of searching for food , but to clean themselves and sometimes to escape from the scorching rays of the sun and cool down their body temperature .

African Penguin Reproduction and Life Cycles :

African penguins begin to reproduce when they reach the age of 4 years , and usually the two spouses are of the same age, this being of the same mother and father , this is in the event that they hatch from eggs together , or the spouses choose each other in the first mating season for them when they reach that stage and become a married couple for the rest of their lives and upon giving birth The eggs The female either digs a burrow in which to lay eggs , or she searches for a rock under which a place is suitable as a nest in which to lay eggs , and the female lays two eggs and they are vaccinated by both spouses alternately for up to 40 days . 

It is about a month old , so that at this age , nurseries can be formed from the same ages of all the chicks of the herd , and parents alike protect them from predatory animals and birds . The chicks remain in this position and stay next to the males and females until they are 3 to 5 months old , and at this age the young begin to leave the colony to search for food and after a few years they return to the colony to be with the adult team in order to start the mating season and produce new generations of African penguins .

African Penguin and Diet :

The African penguin is a carnivorous bird like the rest of the other penguin species , and it lives on a diet consisting of marine organisms only . 

Sardines , mackerel and herring make up the bulk of the penguin's diet due to their abundant presence on the African coast , in addition to squid and crustaceans at times, and the shape of the African penguin’s body makes it a skilled swimmer and fast enough to search for food and its speed under the water may reach about 20 km / An hour , and when you dive in search of food , it does not exceed two minutes until you can breathe because it does not have gills , so it dives very quickly to depths of up to 30 meters and then floats on the surface again . 

It is not uncommon for it to dive much more than that because the chances of hunting at a deeper depth From 100 meters below the water surface .

African Penguin - predators and threats :

The small size of the African penguin makes it easy prey for many predators both in water and on land . In the water , the African penguin faces some predators such as sharks , sea seven and other large animals , but hunting in the water is extremely difficult due to its great speed , but the greatest danger is hunting on land , especially eggs and young ones , as they are easy prey for mongooses , tigers , snakes , and from the air the seagull . 

The African penguin was also severely affected by human activity in the local areas , mainly due to the exploitation of its eggs for food when it was first discovered .

African Penguin and some facts :

The African penguin has much more feathers than the rest of the birds in order to be a good shield for them from the water to keep their skin dry always and often that feathers are changed once every year and it takes about 20 days for the new feathers to come out and return as they were and during this period they cannot swim or Food and may lose half of its weight in this period . The African penguin spends long periods of time on its hunting trips , and the distance of one trip it travels in the ocean to obtain food is approximately 30 - 110 km . She does not take that trip and then prefers to hunt near the beach . 

The African penguin is known as ( the donkey penguin ) because of the calling method used by the colony , which sounds like a cawing of a donkey . It is also interesting that the African penguin performs engagement rituals between each new couple in The mating season , and these rituals take place by issuing their distinctive sounds to alert the rest of the colony to the presence of a new couple , as if celebrating them and informing the whole colony of this event .

The relationship of the African penguin with humans :

Given the presence of African penguin colonies on the coasts of South Africa and not in the heart of the Arctic , which made them always in contact with humans in terms of human access to their eggs for food and also human exploitation of the waste of these birds in the establishment of organic fertilizer factories , this is in addition to oil pollution resulting from oil transport ships In contrast with competition for food as a result of commercial hunting , all of this led to a slowdown in the rate of reproduction and a decrease in their nests , leaving only a small number that some tourists reach to see colonies of this bird . 

However , the nature of the African penguin is that it is irritable , which makes it strictly controlled by tourists .

African Penguin and Save Life Today :

Today , the African penguin is considered an endangered bird listed by the IUCN organization as being threatened with extinction . Today , the number of birds present in its natural environment is estimated at about 70,000 pairs , and it is believed that this number is less than 10 % of the number that existed in 1990 AD and by the year 1950 it had decreased to Then , by the year 1980 AD , it was halved again . 

It is believed by approximate studies of the number of colonies from 1900 until today that their numbers are decreasing every year at a rate of 2 % . This means that it will soon be extinct . This is due to the hunting of their eggs by humans , competition for food and water pollution .

Some facts about the African Penguin :

Kingdom : birds
Family : vertebrates
Category : domestic birds
Common name : African penguin ( donkey penguin )
Location : African coast
Color : black , white , gray
Skin type : animal feathered protective layer
Size : From 60 - 68 cm
Weight : from 2 to 5 kg
Top speed : 20 km / h
 Diet : carnivorous and fish
Prey : fish , squid and crustaceans
Predators : sharks , sea lions , gulls , snakes , tigers
 Lifestyle : diurnal
Group behavior : colony
Water type : either fresh water , or salt
 Median age : 10 - 15 years
Age of sexual maturity : 3-4 years
Incubation period : 40 days
Average number of eggs : 2 eggs
Little's name : Chick
Age at full feather : 3-5 months
 Status : Endangered
Estimated population : 140,000 birds
Biggest threat : food shortages due to pollution and competition for hunting .
The most distinctive feature : the pink glands above their eyes to control body temperature

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