south-western coast of Africa
Length, 60-70 cm
Estimated at 180,000
Breeds at 24 island and three mailand sites between Hollamsbird Island, Namibia and Bird Island, South Africa
Penguin Islands, Namibia
Sun, sand... and penguins? The African penguin has adapted to warm weather and even in some cases, the proximity of beach-loving humans. It beats the heat by confining activities to dawn and dusk and spending the hottest hours in the water. This isn't always possible when incubating eggs or caring for vulnerable young, so families take shelter from the sun in nests. Historically, these nests were burrows dug into a cap of guano built up over many generations; but these droppings are also prized by humans, mainly as fertilizer, and much has been removed. The paucity of adequate shelter, food shortages and predation are all problems for the fast-dwindling bird.