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).
The day before the Waddle began, Sunday 7 May, our intrepid waddlers gathered in Cape Town. Under the care of our amazing driver, Freddie Roets of De Kat Safaris, we made our way the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Gansbaai. We were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility, and got to see the amazing work that is being done at APSS.
APSS is dedicated to protecting the seabird species of Dyer Island, and plays a significant role in the preservation and rehabilitation of the African penguin at their centre. It aims to be a state-of-the-art rescue, rehabilitation and research facility – and in the few short years that they have been in operation, they have made a huge splash.
After spending time with these incredible people, the waddlers headed to our accommodation for the night - Saxon Lodge in Gansbaai. Saxon Lodge have been a long-time supporter of the Waddle for a Week, with this being the fifth time they have hosted us. This beautiful setting was the perfect place for the waddlers to get to know each other and get well fed before the big day ahead!
Early on Monday morning, we returned to APSS and were greeted by a huge crowd of supporters and a local radio station, Caledon FM.
We were joined by members of the Strandveld Hiking Club, APSS and enthusiastic locals! The first stretch took us through the town of Gansbaai and we were blessed with enthusiastic support from all the locals we encountered.
Leaving Gansbaai, we enjoyed the beautiful views over Walker Bay. We encourage motorists to "hoot for penguins” and attracted over 600 hoots on this leg. The walk was tough and feet were sore, but our waddlers were in high spirits and eager to spread their message.
Entering the town of Stanford, we once again had the chance to engage locals and motivate others to to make their own penguin promises.
Our waddlers also had the chance to grow on this leg of the route - for many the roadside litter was a stark reminder of how desperately our environment needs us all to make a change.
After a brief stop in Stanford, to stretch and massage some aching feet, the waddlers visited Panthera Africa, a true sanctuary for big cats that had been rescued from various exploitative industries, such as canned hunting and Eastern medicine traders.
Panthera Africa is an incredible organisation that take their status of one of South Africa's only seven true sanctuaries seriously. What does this mean? It means that their big cats are not bred, sold or bought and that human interaction with the cats is not allowed. In other words, their goal is to offer educational tours with the sole purpose of creating awareness for these animals in South Africa. This was an interesting insight into responsible tourism, and an eye-opener into how all aspects of our natural world are threatened by irresponsible action.
103km left! Looking forward to making an impact.