Monday, June 30, 2008

Many penguin species still in trouble

According to scientists there are between 16 to 19 penguin species, and more than half of these species is facing majors survival problems. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists three penguin species as endangered, with seven penguins species that are "facing a high risk of extinction in the wild" (meaning they could soon be listed as endangered), and two more penguin species are described as "near threatened". And not so long ago (about 15 years ago) only five to seven species were considered vulnerable.

Majority of penguin species had a horrific decline in the last 50 years (for instance Patagonian penguin colony at Punta Tumbo, Argentina faced decline in number of breeding pairs from 400,000 in the late 1960s to about 200,000 in 2006, and the situation is even worse with African penguins that had even bigger decline from 1.5 million breeding pairs to only 63,000 today. Only few species, like for instance king penguins that live on Antarctica are showing some signs of population growth, while other penguins species continue this alarming trend of population decrease.

African penguins - From 1.5 million to only 63,000 breeding pairs

The biggest factor that causes this big decline in penguin population is global warming. Adelie penguins from Antarctica are faced with food shortage because of the rapid ice-melting and penguins that live on hot Galapagos island are forced to withstand the warmer weather which forces penguins to travel farther to seek food, sometimes abandoning their chicks in the process. There are also oil spills that regularly taint the water where penguins have their habitats, and scientists believe that oil spills have had significant impact to the decline of Punta Tumbo penguin population.

And what is today problem for penguin population will soon be a problem for number of different species, including humans in the end. We seem to be forgetting the fact that all species (including humans) are connected and dependent on each other so we must do our best to try to save as many species as possible. Salvation of penguins and other endangered species is also the road for our salvation. And this is really something we shouldn't be forgetting so often as we do it today.

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