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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
SA penguins again threatened
About 40,000 South African penguins have been rescued
By Greg Barrow in Cape Town

A team of ornithologists has gone to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town to see whether thousands of African penguins that were rescued from an oil slick last month are now settling back into their nesting grounds.

Map of South Africa showing Robben Island
Peter the penguin has now made it back to Robben Island
The penguins have started returning to their colony on the island amidst concerns that they may still be under threat from more oil leaking from the wreck of the Treasure, which sunk in the nearby seas in June.

One penguin named Peter has been tracked to the island using satellite technology.

But so far, he has not been found.

Tracking Peter

Peter became an international wildlife celebrity after a tracking device was glued to his back shortly before he was released into the wild three weeks ago.

Threatened penguins
Oil water prevents them swimming and feeding
All around the world, people have followed his epic 800km swim back to his nesting ground on Robben Island, tracking his progress on daily updates published on the internet.

He is now back in his nesting colony along with thousands of other African penguins that were rescued from Robben Island and other nesting grounds last month when an oil slick threatened to destroy their home.

They were picked up in the biggest ever seabird rescue operation mounted to save this endangered marine species.

Oil threat

The oil leak happened in the middle of the nesting season, and thousands of unborn chicks have already been lost.

Now, conservationists are concerned that the adult birds were released too soon.

More oil is leaking from the engine room in the wreck of the Treasure.

Gale-force winds and high seas have hindered the work of divers who have been trying to pump any remaining oil out of the wreck, and there is a danger that some birds could swim into more polluted waters and have to be rescued once again.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Africa
Race to save penguin chicks
02 Jul 00 | Africa
Evacuation bid to save penguins
26 Jun 00 | Africa
Oil slick threatens penguins
05 Dec 98 | Americas
Penguins in peril
26 Feb 98 | Asia-Pacific
Pick up a penguin
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