Hakai Magazine


Protectors of the Penguins

Meet the people who stand between the world’s last wild populations of African penguins and extinction.

Authored by

by Jessie Ayles

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They’re black and white and full of charm, but African penguins need more than charisma to avoid extinction. Over the past century, the seabird’s population has dropped almost 95 percent due to myriad oceanic woes—entanglement in ghost fishing gear, loss of prey, fouling in spilled oil, and more.

Near Stoney Point on South Africa’s Western Cape, a dedicated group of people isn’t giving up on the penguin just yet though. Day after day, Cuan McGeorge and his colleagues monitor the breeding colony for injured birds, which they transfer to a seabird hospital run by the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. Every bird they successfully save bolsters the species’ potential for the future.