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As Monty mania sweeps the nation, the UK remains number one for Penguins

Last modified: 07 November 2014

King penguins

There are penguins all over the world, not just in Antarctica

Image: Liam Quinn

An epidemic of penguin fever has swept through the nation as John Lewis launched their 2014 Christmas advert yesterday, featuring a heart warming adelie penguin named Monty. But did you know that the UK is the world’s number one penguin nation, with more penguins under the nation’s jurisdiction than any other country on earth.

The adelie, chinstrap and the king penguin are all species that you could find in UK territory, although a trip to see them may take a little longer than the usual visit to the seaside. This is because there are many millions of penguins around the world that are living, eating and breeding in the 14 UK Overseas Territories.

Jonathan Hall, the RSPB’s Head of UK Overseas Territories, said: “When people think of penguins they instantly think Antarctica and penguins huddled around in the cold. But the truth is there are penguin colonies all over the world, from South Africa to the South Sandwich Islands and it just so happens that a high number of them live in Territories under the UK’s jurisdiction.”

The South Sandwich Islands, a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, is home to the single largest penguin colony in the world, with over 1.5 million pairs of chinstrap penguins on the island of Zavodovski. These islands are home to a wealth of marine life, including whales and albatrosses’, which the RSPB hopes to protect through the creation of a half-a-million square kilometre marine reserve. 

Jonathan Hall added: “Over the past few years there have been many reports that point to a decline in marine wildlife. We are currently campaigning for the creation of three giant marine reserves around three different Territories. 

“Over 90% of threatened wildlife that the UK is responsible for can be found overseas, and we want to do all we can to protect the wildlife that lives and around these islands, from penguins to seals. The hope is that the marine reserves will not only stop the decline in marine wildlife, but actually start to help reverse it.” 

The RSPB is also campaigning for the creation of two other giant marine reserves in UK Overseas Territories. The construction of the marine reserves around the Ascension and Pitcairn islands would take the total area protected to 1.75 million kilometres, helping to give Monty, Mabel and their mates a home.

Giving Nature a Home is the RSPB’s campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it by planting pollen-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies, putting up a nest box for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species.

The charity hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature.

To learn more about the UK Overseas Territories and all the projects that the RSPB are undertaking visit our website – 

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.