South Otago Forest & Bird is staging a "yellow-eyed penguins in crisis" march in Balclutha next week. Members will be taking to the South Otago town's main street footpath on Thursday, to highlight the plight of the nationally endangered species. The rate of population decline in coastal Otago and the Catlins indicated the yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) would disappear by 2060, or sooner, South Otago Forest & Bird chairman Roy Johnstone said. "Yellow-eyed penguins are in crisis and if nothing is done soon to protect them, then we will lose the population on the mainland."
Quoting from figures obtained from the recent yellow-eyed penguin symposium held in Dunedin, Forest & Bird says in the past five years, nest numbers on the Otago coast have halved. Nests are down to 260, from 520 in 2012. In same period, nest numbers at Long Point in the Catlins have dropped to 19, from 53. Findings also show that chick and adult starvation between 2013 and 2015, along with barracoota and shark attacks, were significant factors in the population decline.
Forest & Bird had been advocating for the creation of a marine reserve protected area as a practical solution to the problem, and the funding of penguin rehabilitation and restoration programmes, Johnstone said.
Source: Stuff, August 11, 2017
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