Are Penguins Endangered? What Can We Do To Protect Penguins?

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 17, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 23, 2021
Emperor Penguins with chick.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.9 Min

Penguins are one of the most interesting birds in the world.

This bird lives primarily in the cold temperatures of Antarctica and its surrounding regions. Scientists have been studying these birds to save their population.

There are many threats to the species. However, the main threats are climate change due to air pollution, scarcity of food due to water pollution, along with the predation of their eggs and chicks.

The temperatures of the earth are increasing, and the sea ice they rely on to survive is melting into the ocean. Thus, the future of the species may be in danger. However, conservation efforts have been undertaken to ensure that the future of the penguin is safe from extinction!

Read on to know more and if you like this article, then also check out do polar bears live in Antarctica? And black and white animals.

Ways To Save Endangered Penguins

There are many threats behind the nearing extinction and decreasing numbers of the penguin population starting from excessive fishing to climate change. Many steps have been taken and are still being taken to save the endangered penguins from these threats.

The main few threats to most of the penguin species becoming endangered and their decreasing numbers are:

Climate change: a huge number of penguins live in the Antarctic regions. Now, global warming and climate change are affecting the Antarctic regions the most as the sea ice keeps melting.

It's been estimated that by 2100, 98% of the colonies of emperor penguins around the earth will be lost due to the melting of ice at a rapid rate.

Excessive fishing: penguins rely on marine animals, like squids, krill, and fish for food. An excessive amount of fishing has led to the scarcity of marine food for a large number of penguin species. At times they also get caught in fishing nets by mistake.

Pollution: oil spills from large ships in the sea and other forms of pollution in the sea have led to damage in the habitat of these birds and a decline in their food source.

Predators: predators of the penguins taking their eggs and chicks is another reason for their decreasing numbers. However, even with predators taking eggs and chicks, penguins can survive, but now, they are falling victims to man-made issues more so.

Some ways to save the penguins from extinction because of these threats are:

Contribute to a pollution-free world. Wherever in the world, we may be, pollutions in the air will affect the entire world's climate change and work as a catalyst to more melting of ice in Antarctica. In addition, big or small, all oil spills in the ocean contribute to damage to the habitat penguins require to survive.

Even from the comfort of our homes, we can help by supporting the conservation efforts that are in action. They can become citizen scientists and help scientists count penguins through satellite images, which can help them figure out if the numbers of these birds are increasing or decreasing, and then they can take proper actions.

You can also make donations to certain organizations to protect different species of penguins.

Species Of Penguins That Are Endangered Or Critically Endangered

Out of 18 species of penguins, fortunately, the conservation status of none of the species is Critically Endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN. However, the conservation status of five species is Endangered!

Galapagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) are endemic to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. They live in the northernmost area of the wildlife range of all penguins. The conservation status of these birds is Endangered, and their population seems to be still decreasing.

The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is an Endangered species of penguin that is endemic to parts of South Africa. Their wildlife range ends around Mozambique and Gabon in the north. Even with their low population, it's still on the decline each year.

Yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes) are endemic to parts of New Zealand. They can be seen breeding around the southeast coasts of the South Island. Mostly these birds are sedentary, but the young ones move as far north as the Cook Strait. This Endangered species already has a low population number, and it's still decreasing.

The conservation status of the erect-crested penguins (Eudyptes sclateri) is Endangered. During the breeding season, these birds can be found in Bounty and Antipodes Islands.

Outside the breeding season, erect-crested penguins can be seen in the New Zealand mainland, sub-Antarctic islands, Kerguelen, Chatham Islands, Falkland Islands, and southern coasts of Australia. Similar to other Endangered penguins, their population is decreasing as well.

The northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) has the highest population among all the Endangered species of penguins. Unfortunately, their population is also decreasing. They can be found in many islands of the temperate Indian and South Atlantic oceans.

Near Threatened To Vulnerable Species Of Penguins

There are three species of penguins that have been deemed as Near Threatened and four species that have been deemed as Vulnerable according to the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Snares penguins (Eudyptes robustus) are a Vulnerable species of penguin that can be found in the Snares Islands. Their population seems to be stable as of now.

The conservation status of the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is Near Threatened. Emperor penguins live, taking up the entire coast of Antarctica. The largest colonies of the emperor penguins have been found in the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea. Unfortunately, their population is showing a decreasing trend.

The conservation status of the macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) is Vulnerable. The population number of the macaroni penguin is in the millions, but it's decreasing. Macaroni penguins are primarily found on the sub-Antarctic islands and the edges of Antarctica. Specifically, in places, like the Crozet Islands, South Sandwich Islands, Falkland Islands, and more.

The conservation status of the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) is Vulnerable. They are mainly found from Isla Guafo of south Chile up to Isla Foca of Peru. Like most other species of these marine animals, the population of Humboldt penguins is on the decline as well.

Fiordland penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) are a species of Near Threatened penguins that are endemic to parts of New Zealand. Mainly from the Coal Island of South Fiordland to Bruce Bay of South Westland, their population is still decreasing.

The southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) is a Vulnerable species of penguins whose population also has a decreasing trend. Southern rockhopper penguins only live in islands of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans.

Royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli) have been declared as a Near Threatened species of penguins. They are one of the very few species that have a stable population, though. They can only be found in Macquarie Island and Bishop and Clerk Islands of Australia.

A king penguin gazes skyward as snow falls gently.

Least Concern Species Of Penguins

Only six out of 18 species of these marine animals are deemed as species of Least Concern. However, that does not mean that their populations are safe. Populations of only two species are increasing as of now.

Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) are one of the only two penguin species that have an increasing population trend. The habitat range of the species is quite widespread. They can be found living along the entire Antarctic coast and in their nearby islands.

Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) are the species of penguin of Least Concern that are decreasing in population. They can be found in the Falkland Islands and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of South America.

King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are the other of the only two species of penguins whose population is showing an increasing trend. These birds are found in Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Crozet Island, Macquarie Island, Prince Edward Islands, Kerguelen Islands, and the sub-Antarctic islands.

Chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus) are the most common penguins of Antarctica. However, the population of chinstrap penguins is still decreasing. They live along the Antarctic Peninsula and the coastal islands around the continent.

Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) are a species of Least Concern penguins that fortunately have a stable population at this moment. They are specifically found on the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic Islands.

Little penguins (Eudyptula minor) are a species of Least Concern species of penguins that are endemic to New Zealand and Australia. They also seem to have a stable population trend as of now.

The Number Of Penguins That Are Left In The Wild

In total, there are 18 known species of penguins. Populations of most of the species have been estimated, but the total penguin population is not known.

The estimated population of Galapagos penguins is around 1,200 individuals, according to the research from 2007. There are about 41,700 mature African penguins and a total of 66,720 individuals as of research done in 2015.

According to data from various breeding grounds of the yellow-eyed penguins, their population ranges between 2,600-3,000 mature individuals. The estimated population of mature erect-crested penguins is around 150,000. There are about 413,700 mature northern rockhopper penguins in the world.

According to the surveys done in 2013, there are about 63,000 individual mature Snares penguins. The exact population of the emperor penguin in total is not known.

However, according to satellite images of 2019, around 256,500 breeding pairs have been found in 54 colonies. The estimated global population of the macaroni penguins is to be around 6.3 million breeding pairs, but their total population, including chicks and non-breeding individuals, is not known.

The global population of Humboldt penguins is estimated to be around 23,800 mature individuals. According to a survey of 2019, the population range of the Fiordland penguins is found to be within the range of 12,500-50,000 individuals.

According to surveys done in all the breeding ranges of the southern rockhopper, their population has been estimated to be around 2.5 million mature individuals. There are about 1.7 million mature royal individual penguins in the world.

The population of Adelie penguins is the highest among all species of penguins. There are about 10 million breeding aged mature individuals of Adelie penguins, and including chicks and non-breeding pairs, the number equates to around 14-16 million individuals, and the number is still increasing.

There are about 2.2-3.2 million mature individuals of Magellanic penguins in this world. The number of the annual breeding pairs of king penguins is around 1.1 million and increasing. There are about 8 million breeding-aged mature individuals of chinstrap penguins in the world.

The global population of gentoo penguins equates to around 774,000 mature individuals. There are about 469,760 breeding-aged mature individuals of little penguins in the world.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly factsfor everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are penguins endangered? Then why not take a look at are owls smart? Or penguin facts pages?

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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