Moscow, Dec 12: The penguin population in Antarctica has slumped due to global warming as melting ice destroyed habitual habitat and reduced their food sources, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report has said.
The four populations of penguins that breed on the Antarctic continent - Adelie, Emperor, Chinstrap and Gentoo - were under escalating pressure, Ria Novosti quoted the report published in a WWF Web site, www.panda.org. In the northwestern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where warming has been the most dramatic, populations of Adelie penguins have dropped by 65 per cent over the past 25 years.
The Emperor penguin, the largest and most majestic penguin in the world, has seen some of its colonies halved in size over the past half century. Warmer winter temperatures and stronger winds mean that the penguins have to raise their chicks on increasingly thinner sea ice. For many years, sea ice has broken off early and many eggs and chicks have been blown away before they were ready to survive on their own.
''The Antarctic penguins already have a long march behind them,'' the site quoted Deputy Director of WWF's Global Climate Change Program, Anna Reynolds, as saying.
She said these Antarctic icons would have to face an extremely tough battle to adapt to the unprecedented rate of climate change.
The Antarctic Peninsula is warming five times faster than the average rate of global warming.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who visited Antarctica on November 10, said he was concerned about the melting of glaciers and pledged to take measures.