- Royal Penguins as a species are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN, with high risk of endangerment inthe wild. Historically they were hunted for their oil; between 1870 and 1919 the government of Tasmaniaissuing licences for hunting them, with an average of 150,000 penguins (both Royal and King) being taken each year. At the peak of the industry in 1905, the plant established on Macquarie Island was processing 2000 penguins at a time, with each penguin yielding about half a litre of oil.
Since the end of penguin hunting on Macquarie the numbers have climbed to 850,000 pairs. Before hunting started, there were 3 million penguins on the island (both Royal and King).