Endangered Penguins attacked by bees

Madison Ramey

  Sixty-three endangered penguins were killed by a swarm of bees near Cape Town in South America. The national parks’ officials had told BBC that this was the first known attack at Boulder’s Beach, where approximately sixty thousand people visit each year. 

African penguins are known for their small size. Although they traditionally live on the coast and islands of South America and Namibia, some have been spotted up north by Gabon. Unfortunately, the population of these penguins has declined due to commercial fishing and environmental fluctuation, which is a combination of food reduction, changes in food quality, and periods of coldness and/or dryness. These are some of the common facets that typically cause various species’ populations to diminish. The decline of significant species can be incredibly detrimental to essential aspects of life. For example, a world without these penguins would immensely disrupt the food chains in South America, having lasting effects. 

Dr. Alison Kock, a marine biologist working for South America’s national parks agency, states, “Usually the penguins and bees co-exist.” 

Kock also mentions that bees don’t sting unless they are provoked. Those investigating the situation assume that the bees’ nest must have been disturbed, thus causing them to become aggressive due to their protective hivemind nature. The bees may have then witnessed the penguins on their flight path, which explains why they had attacked these peaceful creatures. 

Unfortunately, the birds had been stung in numerous areas, including near their eyes and flippers. 

“Those are parts that are not covered by feathers,” said Dr. Katta Ludynia, from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds. 

Moreover, one of the penguins was stung a shocking 27 times. This massive number of bee stings would have been extremely deadly to any other animal. Additionally, most bees die after stinging, which describes why multiple bees were found dead at the crime scene.

“Once a honey bee has stung something, it leaves a pheromone behind so that the target is easily located by other honeybees defending the nest,” said Jenny Cullinan of the African Wild Bee Institute. 

Now, the few penguins who survived this treacherous threat will most likely be targets for the rest of the hive. Tests are being run on the penguins for toxicity and diseases to make sure that they are recovering quickly and safely. The situation will continue to be monitored.