The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is endemic to the southern African coastline, found from Namibia to the Eastern Cape in South Africa. This beloved bird is known for its black and white plumage, black spots on their chests and characteristic “bray”, resembling the sound of a donkey. In fact, you may know the bird by its old name – the jackass penguin. Penguins are sentinels of ecosystem health and play an important role in the functioning of marine ecosystems. African penguin colonies provide an indication of the status of other marine top predators that target the same prey (sardines and anchovies) and, critically, the status of the marine ecosystem.
The African penguin is a valuable part of South Africa’s natural heritage and arguably one of the most accessible penguins in the world. The African penguin colonies at Boulders Beach and Betty’s Bay are an important drawcard for eco-tourism in South Africa.
Image credit: Steven Benjamin