From 11 April 2016, for six days, 16 penguin lovers from all over South Africa (plus one from the UK) will be walking 125 from Gansbaai to Boulders Beach in Simonstown. The mission behind this meander: to raise awareness for the endangered African penguin, and to encourage everyone we meet to take action and make a “penguin promise”. What’s good for penguins is good for all animals, including ourselves. The Waddle for a Week campaign, now in its sixth year, is led by African penguin conservation initiative Penguin Promises and the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Today may have been the longest stretch of the Waddle – 30km in all – but it was also incomparably beautiful as we walked through the Overberg, with the ocean to our left and the fynbos-covered mountains to our right (plus the occasional wild horse thrown in for free).
What may have also made the distance easier to handle is A) the fact that our Waddlers have established a great rhythm on the road by now, and B) the fact that we enjoyed fantastic support and engagement on the road today.
Members of CapeNature joined us for the entire 30-km trip. Together, we skirted the Kogelberg Nature Reserve as we left Kleinmond and waddled towards Betty’s Bay. Taking up our banners and signs, our honorary Waddlers were instrumental in getting us to 937 hoots for penguins today.
Members of SPAR Western Cape’s marketing team and one of their videographers also joined us. Watch this space for a look at their footage!
SPAR is a new supporter of the work done by the Two Oceans Aquarium – they are sponsoring the Seal Platform outside the Aquarium as well as the work done by our team to free entangled Cape fur seals from painful plastic box bands and fishing line.
In addition to sponsoring the Seal Rescue Programme and Platform, a number of SPAR stores in the Western Cape have embraced the Aquarium’s Rethink the Bag campaign with their own initiative: “It’s our plastic. It’s our problem”. Franchise stores have voluntarily joined this initiative and aim to reduce plastic bag sales by educating consumers and encouraging the purchase and committed use of long-life, reusable bags instead.
Today, in Kleinmond, we could see SPAR’s commitment in action as a number of their staff members joined us for a portion of the route.
Lunch packs and cooldrinks were provided by Kleinmond Tourism - thank you for hosting us in your town!
An additional factor that made today so enjoyable was what waiting for us at the end of this leg: the African penguin breeding colony at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay, where 1 000 of the remaining 18 000 wild breeding pairs in the world now live and bray.
Accompanying us on the final 1km to the breeding colony were some of Betty’s Bay’s youngest activists, all dressed up in black and white and holding their own personal messages for the penguins.
Two of our Waddlers, Leitza Gorman who is an African penguin keeper at Devon Zoo in the UK, and Leandra Paverd who is an animal behaviourist at uShaka Sea World, had never seen these seabirds in the wild before today. And Elaine Bratt hadn't seen wild penguins in 16 years! Imagine how hard it was for us to drag them away at the end of this long, rewarding day …
Above all, though, we are waddling to inspire action and real change in the lives of everyone we meet during this week.
But that means we have to walk the talk. These are the changes that some of our Waddlers are committing to.
Ayrton King: Two Oceans Aquarium Volunteer
“My promise is to encourage as many other people as possible to make penguin promises, to boost the campaign and get the word out. The main promises I’ll push are to not use straws and to not use single-use carry bags, and also to recycle. Straws are tools of convenience, so we don’t need them. Yet in our daily life we’re constantly using straws. Why not just drink out of the glass?”
Find out more about the devastating effects of straws on the environment by checking out our Straws Suck campaign.
Leandra Paverd: uShaka Sea World Animal Behaviourist
“My promise is to use environmentally friendly products in terms of washing powders and chemicals around the house, as well as personal hygiene products. I think it would make a great impact on the environment, because everything ends up in the ocean eventually.”
Elaine Bratt: Johannesburg Zoo Animal Keeper
“My penguin promise is to reduce my use of single-use items when consuming food products, clothes and things like that. I’ll have a smaller footprint! My reusing and recycling is already awesome, but my reducing needs work.”
Hayley McLellan: Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner and Waddle for a Week Coordinator
“I am, for the third time, attempting to go vegetarian. I did it for six months in 2011 and six months in 2015, and it’s been six weeks so far and I’m just going to give it another good shot. All I can do, is do my best. My reason for going vegetarian is two-fold: It’s partially from a humane perspective. When I’m eating meat I often imagine the process of that lamb or chicken or beef getting to my plate, and I often find myself not enjoying that meal … so what’s the point? And also the proven fact that mass animal livestock production is one of the greatest resource drains on the planet.”
Watch the Day 4 highlights
- Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week 2016: Day 1 – Gansbaai to Stanford (20km)
- Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week 2016: Day 2 – Stanford to Hermanus (24km)
- Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week 2016: Day 3 – Hermanus to Arabella (Kleinmond) (24km)
A big thank you to the sponsors who make the Waddle possible:
- Two Oceans Aquarium
- uShaka Sea World
- Old Mutual Finance
- De Kat Safaris
- First Ascent
- XXL Brands
- Badges Unlimited
- Better Earth
- SPAR Western Cape
Accommodation kindly sponsored by:
- Boulders Beach Lodge
- Grail Programmes
- Manor on the Bay
- The Muize
- Saxon Lodge
- Stanford Hills
- Surfer’s Corner
- Windsor Hotel