Impact of Human Activities on Penguins.
Human activities pose a great threat for the survival of penguins. These activities are not only harmful for the land animals but also endanger aquatic life. Human activities often create a lot of problems. Basically, the human impact on the ecosystem is quite dangerous.
Mostly human activities cause the degradation of the habitats of penguins. Overfishing also causes a lot of problems. Penguins are also greatly affected by air, land and water pollution. Many species of penguins are at the risk of extinction.
- How hunting affects the penguins?
Hunting of the penguins is done by human beings for various purposes like recreation, food or to increase the fish population. As we know that an increase in penguins’ population may result in a decrease in the fish population of that sea or ocean where penguins swim for getting seafood. Fish is one of the most favourite foods of human beings. People love to cook delicious recipes of fish all over the world. Some kinds of fish are extraordinarily tasty. In some areas, fish are the staple food and people eat fish on a daily basis. So if the penguin population exceeds a certain limit, people in that area start hunting. There is also another reason for the penguins’ hunt. Some people eat penguins and they cook them in a variety of ways. This practice is not only seen in modern people, but it is also observed in people of the remote past. Eating the flesh of penguins is not the end. Some people eat their eggs too. History reveals a lot of interesting facts related to hunting of penguins. For centuries, it had been a practice of indigenous peoples to eat penguins’ meat and eggs. They used to eat eggs in their breakfasts and dinners. Their soft eggs were loved by them. One of the factors, which makes their hunting quite easier, is the lack of fear of humans. Penguins generally don’t bother humans and keep on performing their regular activities. Some early fishermen found out that they no longer needed to endanger their lives in search of meat and eggs. They stopped hunting fish, whales, sharks and other edible aquatic animals. They turned to penguin colonies. When they saw a large number of birds’ with plenty of eggs, they started hunting them. Penguins are flightless birds and they were unable to protect themselves against human attacks. Most species of the penguins have heavy bodies and they walk slowly. Moreover, penguins are also unable to fly. These all factors added up and they were killed and exploited a lot by human beings. They made it easier for human beings to survive but they themselves were endangered. As a result of this killing, penguins greatly reduced in number. This hunting practice was mainly observed in African Island. It is a well known fact that penguins live in the form of colonies, so they found a large number of penguins at one place. Penguin colonies served as a source of fresh meat and eggs for them. Temporarily, it was great fun but it was against the laws of nature. They didn’t have to worry about their jobs and other such activities. They used to eat 300,000 annually. Egg-collection posed a great threat to their survival. These innocent birds were greatly misused by the humans. An estimate shows that almost 300 penguins were killed on a daily basis. At last, some wise people showed their concern and this issue was raised internationally. Steps were taken to reduce this practice. Egg-collecting was banned in 1969. But it is perhaps too late. Still the concerned authorities are unable to stop the illegal harvesting of penguins. I think that humans are still very least concerned about this problem. As a result, 60% species of penguins are at the risk of extinction.
In addition, some technical-minded people start their business by making products out of penguins’ skins. Nowadays, many small industries make caps and shoes out of the penguins’ fur. Slipper and fluffy purses are also made these days. People make their use for different purposes and never think about the well being of these tiny creatures. Life is tough and harsh for them because they not only have to protect themselves against the predators and harsh climatic conditions, but they are also very confused because of the human activities. Nature has created these lovely creatures to decorate this world and beautify our surroundings and we have no right to go against the laws of nature. Many small textile industries make the use of penguins’ feathers to decorate the garments. Feathers of penguins are too wooly and warm. They provide excellent embellishment to the clothes.
Penguin has an oily layer around its body which keeps them warm and provides insulation against the cold and harsh climatic conditions. Some people started to extract this oil of penguins. This oil was very expensive and costly. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the trade of this oil was a very big business for some traders. It was considered even dearer than gold. Actually, the extraction of this oil was not an easy task which made it economically important. What was the purpose of extraction of this oil? This oil was primarily used for lighting as it has highly glowing flame. In the 19th century, rich people used it for decoration purposes. This oil was also used as a fuel and leather tanning. In the 20th century, people started protesting against the extraction of this oil. Of course, the task of saving the penguins was far more important than extracting oil out of their bodies. It was a highly cruel act. These protests bore fruit and oil extraction was banned in 1918. As a result, scientists started thinking about other substitutes and introduced much cheaper products in the market. The people living in the islands of the southern Indian Ocean still use the meat of penguins as a food source. Related authorities have failed to overcome the exploitation of penguins and penguins are still facing numerous problems.
- What is guano harvesting?
Human beings even didn’t forget to utilize the guano of penguins. According to scientists, the guano of these marine birds is a very rich source of nitrogen and it can act as nitrogen fertilizer. This practice of using the guano as a fertilizer was seen in very ancient people as well. It is estimated that the people of 500 BC knew its use as fertilizer and they used it to improve the quality of their crops. Do penguins need their own guano? Yes. They do. penguins use their dark guano to melt snow. This practice was mainly observed in the penguins of the Antarctic Peninsula. Penguins poop on the icy surface thus making it warm. But human activities have also made it difficult for them and in the beginning of 20th century, the guano resource was at the risk of being depleted. It negatively impacted the chicks.of the penguins as well as they had to leave this adaptation due to lack.of enough guano.
According to Wikipedia:
Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish from a body of water at a rate that the species cannot replenish in time, resulting in those species either becoming depleted or very underpopulated in that given area.
So now we can imagine how much dangerous overfishing can be for the survival of penguins. The major food source for most of the penguin species is fish.. Some penguins entirely rely on this seafood. Human competition for food sources endangers the lives of penguins.
Overfishing of anchoveta (a small fish) is very dangerous for the survival of some species of penguins like Humboldt penguins. These small fish are the major and the only food source for some penguins. Humans don’t care. Actually some of the aquatic animals are used for pharmaceutical purposes. Fish capsules are of vital importance in the pharmaceutical industry. Krills are also fished commercially. Small penguins like Adelie penguins rely on krill mainly. This reduction in krill population pose serious threats and pose nutritional stress on penguins. This practice of killing the krill is mainly observed in the Southern Ocean.
- Introduction of predators by human beings.
Artificially introduced predators like snakes, rats, cats, pigs, dogs and ferrets are extremely catastrophic for the existence of penguins. They not only eat the eggs and chicks of the penguins, but also destroy their cute nesting sites. These lazy and slow birds cannot resist against these fierce predators. These predators, introduced by human beings, have highly devastating effects. They have been known to prey on adult penguins as well. Moreover, in some areas, humans introduce herbivores like sheep, rabbits etc. These herbivores do not cause any damage to the chicks of penguins but they do destroy their eggs and habitats while grazing carelessly.
I want to conclude my article and I am feeling sorry for the poor penguins. We are failing to properly handle these beautiful creatures. I don’t know why don’t people feel mercy and kindness for these lovely marine birds. They have refreshing and soothing impact on our minds and we should provide high protection and safety to these peaceful birds.