South Africa

Bees Kill 60 Rare South African Penguins in a Freak Accident

"It is very sad to see the deaths of so many healthy, most likely breeding adults," an expert said.

South Africa : Illustration
Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Dozens of rare penguins have been killed by a swarm of bees in South Africa, in what conservation experts have described as a freak accident.

More than 60 African penguins were found dead on Boulders Beach near Cape Town, many with bee stings around their eyes, an occurrence researchers said was unprecedented.

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds said in a statement that it suspects a bees' nest was disturbed in the area. While penguins have been stung by bees before, the foundation said it had not seen an incident on this scale.

Katta Ludynia, research manager at the foundation, said her team initially thought a predator was behind the deaths. But postmortems revealed neither a predator nor disease were to blame, but instead found bee stings in the birds' eyes.

"And then our veterinarian actually went back to site and found dead bees on that stretch of beach," she said.

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