From 8 to 13 May 2017, 16 committed penguin lovers are walking more than 125km from Gansbaai to Boulders Beach, Simon's Town. What’s the goal of this meander? To raise awareness for the plight of the endangered African penguin. We hope to inspire and encourage those we encounter along the way to make a "Penguin Promise" - a small lifestyle change that will make a big positive impact on the state of our oceans. Penguins are an indicator species, meaning that their decline is a result of damage to the entire ecosystem and that making changes that are good for penguins will be good for other animals too, including humans. This is the seventh annual Penguin Promises Waddle for a Week campaign, supported by the Two Oceans Aquarium and the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR).
Day four was tough - at 30km, this would be the longest stretch of the Waddle for a Week, but it was also one that our waddlers were excited to do. Each of us had committed to taking the Penguin Promises mission as far as we could and no amount of rain, blisters or shin splints was going to hold us back from completing that task.
Thanks to a restful night sponsored to us by The Grail Centre in Kleinmond, our waddlers were ready to take on the day's challenges. After a quick breakfast we were back on the road, from Arabella Estate to Betty's Bay.
We were deeply fortunate to be joined by some new waddlers: staff from CapeNature who also believe in the Penguin Promises cause and would be waddling along with us for the day's 30km. Togther, we got 891 hoots in support of Penguin Promises.
This added support was inspiring, and it only grew greater as the Waddle was greeted with huge fanfare at the Kleinmond tourism office. A large crowd of community members had gathered in support, and several local media outlets, including Caledon FM, were there to hear our story and help us spread the Penguin Promise inspiration. Jakkie Louw's "Daar Onder Lê Drie Pikkewyne" was fast becoming our community selected waddle-anthem.
Along our walk, we were joined by the media team from SPAR Western Cape - the sponsors of #Waddle2017's education outreach component. We had the chance to share our personal experiences and expertise about African penguins with them, and are looking forward to see how they carry this Penguin Promise mission forward.
Despite the rain, our spirits remained high. The 16 waddlers had become a family, one with a shared vision and goal: a South Africa willing to take action to save the African penguin.
When we reached Betty's Bay and were almost at the Stony Point African penguin colony (one of the largest remaining ones), we were joined by mini-waddlers from the Pringle House Eco School. It was inspiring to see the enthusiasm and effort these children had put into sharing their love of penguins, and it's our hope that one day this will be shared by all South Africans.
Upon reaching Stony Point, the Waddle had its first opportunity to view truly wild African penguins. For some of us this was the first time we'd ever seen these beautiful birds in the wild, and was an emotional experience. For others, it was a chance to show the school children the penguin chicks, quirks and behaviours, sharing some of our passion.
Day four has left the waddlers reinvigorated! Let's work together to inspire change.
Join us on the last day!
Our Waddle for a Week campaign is meant to inspire those we encounter to take action in their lives that will be for the good of the environment, and of course the African penguin. We call this pledge to take action a "Penguin Promise". Come be part of our Penguin Promise by joining the last leg of the Waddle at 8:30 on Saturday 13 May at Surfer's Corner in Muizenberg and walking with us to Simon's Town. Wear your black and white gear, bring the family, bring your camera, bring your cat, bring your friends. Let's spread the message together!
Making a Penguin Promise
Throughout our waddle, we are all lucky enough to have the chance to chat and reflect on ways we can make small changes in our lives that will collectively have a positive impact on our environment. These Penguin Promises of ours will be shared with you all soon.
For now though, we ask that our followers please consider what their own penguin promise could be and share their thoughts on social media using #penguinpromises (and tagging #waddle2017 if you want to give our waddlers some extra motivation) or by logging it online. These promises can be as simple as saying no to drinking straws - if we all do something small it adds up.