Endangered penguins in rehab

29 March 2011 | News story

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSBP), an IUCN Member, other conservationists and volunteers, are working hard to save a colony of threatened Northern Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) after a devastating oil spill in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago.

On the 16 March 2011, a cargo vessel the MS Oliva, crashed into Nightingale Island, which includes nearly half of the world population of the Northern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), one of the world’s most threatened species of penguin.

At least 1,500 oil-soaked Northern Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) have now been put into ‘rehab’ but those assessing the disaster believe more than 10,000 birds could have been affected.

Katrine Herian, who works for the RSPB on the island, says: “The priority is to get food into the birds as they are very hungry. We are trying locally caught fish and some are starting to take small half inch squares of the food.

“We will do all we can to clean up as many penguins as possible after this disaster.“

Sarah Sanders from the RSPB’s International Division says: “We still can’t believe this has happened and suspect that the full impacts of the oil spill will still be coming to light in weeks to come.

“Unlike previous spills of this size, it didn’t happen way out to sea and gradually approach such a vital conservation area. It struck right at the heart of the penguin colony and it’s devastating to them.”

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