Nature reserve for Humboldt Penguins in northern Peru

Authorities in northern Peru have set aside 43 hectares, about 106 acres, for a nature reserve to protect the Humboldt penguin, one of 17 penguin species native to South America’s Pacific coast, according to Wilfredo Sandoval in a report in the daily El Comercio. The proposed reserve is to be at La Farola, on the shores near the port of Eten, about 750 kilometers north of Lima in Chiclayo province, Lambayeque department.

According to El Comercio, the project is backed by French researchers from the Doué de la Fontaine zoo, who are in charge of creating a habitat for the penguins that will include a deep pool surrounded by protected areas for their nest burrows.

The initial investment for the reserve is reportedly $12,000, which includes the transportation cost of 12 Humboldt penguins from a Lima-based zoo to the reserve.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, has placed the Humboldt penguin on their endangered species list. Threats to the penguin come from overfishing, guano harvesting, human interference and climate changes from the El Niño phenomenon —  the 1982-1983 El Niño is believed to have caused the loss of nearly 65 percent of the Humboldt penguin population.

The Humboldt penguin population in the wild is estimated at about 10,000 to 12,000. Its habitat is the coast and islands along the Peru and Chile coast within the reaches of the Humboldt Current.

The Humboldt penguin is about 22 to 26-inches tall (69cm) and weighs approximately nine pounds. Its head is black except for a narrow white stripe on each side of the crown. The plumage on the upper part of the body is black while the under part is mostly white.

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