FIONA AYERST’S PHOTO PORTFOLIO OF THE AFRICAN PENGUIN. The population of these birds is under intense pressure with a population crashing so fast, it’s dangerous to hold your breath. So fast in fact, that these penguins will likely become extinct in our lifetime unless they have a drastic change of fortune. The main reason behind the crash is man ( of course! ) causing dwindling food resources and the loss of guano from bird islands (penguins use guano to build their nests).