On Friday, 63 penguins were found dead in a colony of Simonstown near Cape Town, according to a statement from the South African National Parks (Sanparks).
“The death occurred suddenly between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning,” the statement said, and experts have begun an investigation into the cause of death.
“The postmortem revealed that all penguins had multiple bee stings, and several dead bees were found at the site where the birds died,” it added.
Sanparcs said preliminary investigations suggest the penguins died after being bitten by Cape honey bees, but samples were still being tested to rule out other possible causes.
Sanpark marine biologist Alison Cocke thanked the organization’s partners, including the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and the City of Cape Town, for their assistance in investigating the “unusual phenomenon”.
“No more dead African penguins were found at the site today, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” Cock said in the statement.
On Sunday, SANCCOB veterinarian David Roberts told AFP news agency that bee stings were found around the penguin’s eyes.
“It’s a very rare event. We don’t expect it to happen very often, it’s a fluke,” Roberts told AFP.
African penguins are native to the coasts of South Africa and Namibia.
They are among the smaller penguin species known for their irregular markings and loud noises.
The species has also declined sharply from a population of just over one million in the early 20th century to just 55,000 in 2010 – when they were declared endangered.
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