Over 60 endangered penguins killed by swarm of honey bees near Cape Town

·1 min read

Over 60 penguins were killed by a swarm of bees on a beach near Cape Town, South Africa.

On Friday, 63 of the endangered birds were found dead in Simon's Town and were later taken to identify the cause of death, according to a press release from the South African National Parks.

The result of the postmortems discovered none of the penguins had external physical injuries save for multiple bees stings. Preliminary investigations found Cape honey bees to be the culprit as many of them were found dead at the site.

"Usually the penguins and bees co-exist," Dr. Alison Kock, a marine biologist with South Africa's national parks agency, told the BBC.

"The bees don't sting unless provoked - we are working on the assumption that a nest or hive in the area was disturbed and caused a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and became aggressive," she said.

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Samples from the penguins were sent for disease and toxicology testing, according to a statement from the South African National Parks.

African penguins are an endangered species after a rapid population decline due to food shortages, commercial fishing and climate change, according to the International Union for Conservative of Nature.

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Swarm of bees kills 63 endangered penguins in South Africa

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