Target: Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency
Goal: Implement habitat protections to save the African penguin from extinction
African penguin populations, which breed in Namibia and South Africa, have declined by 95 percent since preindustrial times. Of the 1.5 million estimated in 1910, only some 10 percent remained at the end of the 20th century. In September 2010, the African penguin was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Roughly four million penguins existed at the beginning of the 19th century, but the total population dipped to 200,000 by 2000. Ten years later, in 2010, the number of African Penguins was estimated to be only at 55,000. If this decline is not halted, the African penguin is expected to be extinct within 15 years. The African penguin has faced the risk of extinction over the past 80 years, suffering a greater decline than any other penguin species.
More recently, competition with commercial fisheries for anchovies and sardines, the penguins’ main source of food, has contributed to their decline. Fisheries force penguins to search for prey farther off shore, often times leading them to eat less nutritious prey than what they’re accustomed to.
According to the Earthwatch Institute, oil spills and illegal dumping of excess oil from tankers threaten their survival by polluting their habitats. Penguins rely on their feathers for insulation, and when they become covered in oil, they unable to keep warm. Along with these challenges, providing a safe breeding environment for penguins in Africa is critical for the birds’ future survival as they are the only species of penguin that breeds in Africa. Urge Gina McCarthy, Administrator for the EPA, to provide habitat protection for this disappearing species.
Dear Gina McCarthy,
The African penguin is in great trouble and in danger of extinction within the next 15 years if something is not done to conserve this beautiful species. Between pollution of their habitats and the steady reduction of the species’ main food source by commercial fisheries, the population of the African Penguin has significantly decreased since it was listed as an endangered species.
Please make an effort to provide habitat protection or conservation efforts to the African Penguin so that the species can survive.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Paul Mannix via Wikimedia Commons