Conservationists save more than 800 endangered chicks from starvation after they are abandoned by their parents
theguardian.com, Thursday 3 April 2014 16.55 BST
More than 800 endangered African penguin chicks have been saved from starvation in South Africa as part of a conservation project led by the Bristol Zoological Society.
Conservationists working on the Chick Bolstering project took chicks from a number of colonies and hand-reared them to ensure their survival. Around 500 were taken into temporary captive care in November and December alone, after being identified as underweight and unwell due to abandonment by their parents during the moulting period at the end of the breeding season.
African penguin colonies are declining at an alarming rate - the present population is only 2.5% of its level 80 years ago. Overfishing and the movement of fish stocks away from the colonies has resulted in a shortage of food.
Around 150,000 breeding pairs of African penguins were counted in 1956, but last year the total had plummeted to only 19,000 pairs - a loss of nearly 90% in half a century.
For the chicks, abandonment before they are of fledging age is a real danger, with cold weather already causing issues for their survival.