Africa’s Penguins Still Reeling From “Guano” Craze

After a century-long population crash, African penguins face a tough road to recovery, conservationists say. The birds face problems old and new–from the lingering aftereffects of a 19th-century guano craze to modern woes like oil pollution and a dwindling food supply.

“Before artificial fertilizers were invented, guano [bird excrement] was the best source of nitrogen. [It was] white gold,” said Les Underhill, the director of the avian demography unit at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.