In South Africa, something very strange has happened, and it involved local honeybees.
South African penguins are endangered. Recently, dozens of them appear to have been killed by a swarm of bees.
The South African National Parks (SANParks) announced that 63 penguins that are native to coastal Namibia and South Africa were found dead at a colony near Cape Town called Simonstown.
The statement they released indicated that the penguins died suddenly between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Experts are now investigating the cause of their deaths.
It seems like a war zone, where many dead bees were found at the place where the birds died. Post-mortems on the penguins have revealed multiple bee stings, particularly around the penguins’ eyes, according to what veterinarian David Roberts from SANCCOB told AFP news agency.
This 1:07-minute video by Reuters gives a little more insight but this is challenging to watch and not for everyone:
Although samples are still being tested to rule out any other potential causes of death, the preliminary investigation suggested that the penguins did indeed die after being stung by the Cape honeybees, according to SANParks.
This is undoubtedly an unusual event that rarely if ever happens. SANParks marine biologist Alison Kock has thanked the organization’s partners, which include the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and the City of Cape Town, because they assisted in investigating what happened.
No further dead African penguins have been found and the experts are continuing their vigilance of the situation, according to Kock.
Roberts told AFP that this was a fluke, and that they don’t expect such a thing to occur again.
These penguins are considered a smaller penguin species. They are known for their loud voices and irregular markings.
They are in severe decline. At the beginning of the 20th Century there were over a million of them, and by 2010 there were only around 55,000 left alive. This is when they were declared to be endangered.