|Conservationists say the African penguin is at high risk of extinction. "The bees don't sting unless provoked - we are working on the assumption that a nest or hive in the area was disturbed and caused a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and became aggressive," said Dr Alison Kock added. "Unfortunately the bees encountered a group of penguins on their flight path." (Photo by=AFP)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] Conservationists say the African penguin is at high risk of extinctionSixty-three endangered African penguins have been killed by a swarm of bees in a rare occurrence near Cape Town, bird conservationists in South Africa say, BBC reported.
The protected birds, from a colony in Simonstown, were found on the shore with multiple bee-stings. They had no other physical injuries. National parks officials told the BBC this was the first known attack at the world-famous Boulders Beach, which attracts up to 60,000 visitors a year. "Usually the penguins and bees co-exist," said Dr. Alison Kock, a marine biologist with South Africa's national parks agency (SANParks). Post-mortems found that the birds had been stung around the eyes and on their flippers.
Honeybees die after stinging and a number of dead bees were found at the scene. African penguins are distinctive for their small size, and live on the coast and islands of South Africa and Namibia, though some have been spotted as far north as Gabon. Their populations are rapidly declining, the International Union for Conservation of Nature says, in main part because of commercial fishing and what it calls "environmental fluctuation". The national body said in a statement on Sunday that it was still conducting toxicity and disease checks on the birds, and would continue to monitor the situation.