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21st Sep 2021

Swarm of bees kill 60 penguins by stinging them in the eyes

Kieran Galpin


The penguins showed no other sign of injury

In what has been compared to a freak occurrence, South African honey bees have killed over 60 endangered penguins at a beach near Cape Town.

According to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Costal Birds, the swarm killed the penguins at a beach near both Cape Town and a nearby national park on Sunday (September 19).

It was also revealed that the 63 penguins that perished are on the red list for endangered animals. Upon inspection, officials found that they showed no other sign of injury besides bee stings.

“After tests, we found bee stings around the penguins’ eyes,” said David Roberts, a veterinarian for the foundation.

“This is a very rare occurrence. We do not expect it to happen often,” he said, alluding to the unlikely nature of the incident and confirming that dead bees were also found at the scene.

The penguins’ bodies have been sent for post-mortem inspections at the foundation – a process which will also include disease and toxicology testing as a precaution.

It is believed that the bees came from the nearby national park, where they are recognised as part of the natural ecosystem.

In a statement, the foundation said: “There were no external physical injuries found on any of the birds.”

In other unsettling animal news, the Faroe Islands is reviewing its annual hunt of pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises.

The slaughter of the animals, widely known as ‘Grindadráp’ or just ‘The Grind’, has been happening for centuries and while the need to hunt the animals is no longer vital for the survival of locals, the cultural aspect of the activity is still very prominent in Faroese society.

The Faroese Prime Minister, Bárður á Steig Nielsen, said: “We take this matter very seriously. Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faroese society.”

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