Meet the Waddlers

By Hayley McLellan / 20 April 2013

I cannot believe it is time for another Waddle!

It feels like we only just wrapped up the last one. This is the AKAA’s (Animal Keepers Association of Africa) third year of campaigning for the African penguin species, which is rapidly hurtling towards extinction. The scientists tell us that if trends continue we may well see the disappearance of this little black-and-white penguin within the next 20 years … I don’t know about you, but I feel it would be really odd (and very sad) to have no penguins on the continent of Africa. Odd and just not right!

Having faced an onslaught of threats dating all the way back to the 1800s, it is clear to see why this bird is not coping in the environment. Guano scraping as well as egg harvesting from their breeding colonies probably had the biggest impact on their numbers. Approximately a century ago, human beings found that their droppings could be used as agricultural fertiliser, and the eggs were a delicacy to satisfy demanding palates. A few dozen eggs would surely make no difference to the population, I hear you thinking, and with this I would definitely agree, but how about 13-million? Yes, that is the estimate of how many young chicks never saw the light of day. (The population has dropped from almost 2-million birds in 1900 to fewer than 60 000 today.)

So that was all in the past, surely things are better for them now? Not if we consider the lack of suitable nesting habitat (the guano would have successfully provided that), high predation by kelp gulls, seals and sharks, diminishing fish in the ocean for food, and environmental disasters.

So “what‘s the good news?” I hear you cry out! A group of concerned animal keepers from across South Africa pulled together three years ago to create Penguin Promises – “We don’t want your money honey, we want your love!”, which is a practical awareness campaign focused on the African penguin yet not exclusively targeting only one species. For, at the end of the day, it is the web of life that keeps it all together, not one single component. This is a fact that I fear most Homo sapiens trudge through life choosing to ignore, and to our detriment, for in the end if there is no environment there certainly is no future for the human race. A hard, sobering fact!

The endangered African penguin. Photo by Two Oceans Aquarium The endangered African penguin. Photo by Two Oceans Aquarium

Choosing to live a more environmentally conscious life is the only way to tip the scales, and don’t let the sceptics tell you any differently, for they are the naysayers who will pull out every excuse from their black hat of doom. It is as a collective that we DO eventually make the difference required.

So visit www.penguinpromises.com, and be inspired and empowered to make the difference we know you can. Don’t be concerned with what your best friend or mother or brother or neighbour is doing to save the planet – what are YOU doing every day?

The campaign would not be as possible without our generous sponsors. The major contributors to the Penguin Promises campaign and Waddle 2013 are Cape Nature, Chrysler Jeep Dodge, Newlands CT, the Two Oceans Aquarium, uShaka Sea World and SRE Developments.

Accommodation en route is being generously being provided for the Waddlers by:
(pls see all website addresses in doc attached)
Great White House
Saxon Lodge
Mosaic Farm
Reiersvlei Lodge
Windsor Hotel
Grail Cottages
Whale of a Time – WOAT
Whalewatchers Luxury Lodge
Surfer’s Corner
Boulder’s Beach Lodge

Thanks also goes to Better Earth, Brands For Change, and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

This year’s Waddle event happens from 22 to 27 April. The incredible team is made up of animal keepers, and their friends and family, from all over South Africa. This intrepid team consists of:

uShaka Sea World – Gabrielle Harris (and her son Kai), Jane Dlamini, Peter Baloi, Tarryn Abrahams, Paul Lotter and Natasha Lotter
The Two Oceans Aquarium – Hayley McLellan, Steven Casper, Nasmie Simons, Fiona McLellan and Katja Rockstroh
Brands for Change – Nikki Chapman
The Walker Sisters from the Biggarsberg, namely June Smith, Andrea Cronje and Carol Ellerker

We encourage anyone and everyone to join us on the last day, when we take a slow waddle of 15km from Muizenberg (Surfer’s Corner) to Simon’s Town (Boulders Beach). Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, and black and white for the penguins! We start at 9am.

SAVE THE PLANET, IT’S THE ONLY ONE WITH PENGUINS ON IT!

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