In the South African tourist metropolis of Cape Town, 64 penguins have probably been killed by a swarm of bees, a spokeswoman for the South African Nature Conservation Authority SANParks, Lauren Howard-Clayton, told dpa on Monday.
It was a tragic and unusual accident, Howard-Clayton said.
The birds were found dead on Friday on the beach at Boulders, a popular tourist destination south of Cape Town.
They were part of a colony of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) living in a nature reserve, which are considered endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Some of the animals were found with 20 or more bee stings, the spokeswoman said. Subsequent tests for toxins or pathogens were inconclusive. Authorities are now searching for the hive to find out what may have triggered the bee attack, Howard-Clayton said.
The penguins, also known as Cape, black-footed or jackass penguins, breed in South Africa and neighbouring Namibia.
In the past three decades, the number of penguins living in South Africa has dropped by 73 per cent to 10,400 pairs, according to the Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds in Southern Africa (Sanccob).
In Namibia, there are still 4,300 penguin pairs.