Swarms of bees killed at least 63 endangered penguins in South Africa on a beach outside Cape Town, according to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.
David Roberts, a veterinarian with the foundation, said the group “found bee stings around the penguins’ eyes” after conducting tests on the affected population.
“This is a very rare occurrence. We do not expect it to happen often, it’s a fluke,” he told Agence France-Presse, saying that dead bees were also located near the scene.
The endangered penguins were found on Friday and are from a colony in Simonstown. The area is a national park, and Cape honey bees also belong to the ecosystem.
The South African National Parks service said the birds were taken to the foundation for post-mortems, and samples were sent for disease and toxicology examinations.
“There were no external physical injuries found on any of the birds,” a statement from the parks service said.
Following an analysis, all penguins examined appeared to have multiple bee stings. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists African penguins in the red list, meaning they are highly at risk of endangerment.