On Saturday 17 October, we once again celebrated the life and times of the endemic, endangered African penguin for International African Penguin Awareness Day.

While it is always the perfect excuse to have fun (and fun was had – mini-waddle around the V&A Waterfront, hooting for penguins, dancing, arts and crafts, documentary screening) the reason for the existence of International African Penguin Awareness Day is a grave one. Given an annual rate of decline of about 2% per year, there is considerable concern about the long-term viability of African Penguins in the wild.

There was a time when more than a million African penguins could be found along the African coastline, but these days their numbers are dwindling: from an estimated one million pairs 100 years ago to fewer than 40 000 pairs today, mainly owing to the disturbance of their breeding habitat by humans. The sad truth is that we are witnessing the extinction of a species in our lifetime if nothing is done to help penguins.

If you’re as keen about penguins as we are, join us by making a promise and taking the first step in your journey to a greener footprint and a healthier, happier ocean (and world).

1. Say no to plastic

It takes loads of oil to make plastic. To get it to the plastic factories, millions of litres of oil is transported by sea every day. Oil spills, which affect the penguin and other sea animal populations immediately, can take a while to clear up. So opt instead for recyclable bags you can use over and over again. Plastic bottles for bottled water, plastic straws, plastic bags all end up clogging the ocean and choking penguins.

2. Eat well

Make sure there is nothing fishy about the food you eat. Eat poultry that has been grain- and not fishmeal-fed and only sustainable seafood produce. WWF SASSI’s seafood guide is a great place to start.

3. Clean up

Get involved in coastal clean-ups in your community and don’t litter. If it’s in your backyard it could easily end up in the ocean.

4. Get involved

Volunteer at a conservation centre in your community. Buy local products and share information with other people. A greener lifestyle means a better environment – not only for penguins, but also for all living creatures.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended the mini-waddle for International African Penguin Awareness Day. Just by being here, you made a difference.

Check out how to green your footprint here, and visit Penguin Promises to learn more about this endangered bird.

Click here to view more pictures of our activities for International African Penguin Awareness Day (links to Facebook photo album).

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