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Ways you can help the African penguin

By Laura du Toit
- Not On Our Watch, Penguins, Campaigns, Conservation, Foundation, Blog
Ways you can help the African penguin
Cover image credit: Steve Benjamin

In just 100 years, African penguin numbers have dwindled from over 1.5 million to fewer than 10 000 pairs today. Their situation is dire, and while many incredible organisations work to ensure their survival, the African penguin still needs public support to ensure that it receives the needed policies and protections to avoid extinction. There is hope for the African penguin, but only if we jointly say "not on our watch" – the time for action is now.

Fortunately, there are tonnes of ways you can help the African penguin! Here’s how:


Support the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

The African penguins’ chief food source (small pelagic fish) is rapidly depleting due to overfishing and unsustainable practices. By supporting sustainable seafood, you can make a difference in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.

For more information, visit the WWF SASSI website or download their helpful app

Only eat grain-fed (or free-range) chicken.

Did you know that small pelagic fish, like anchovies, are the primary diet for penguins? Believe it or not, most anchovies caught by commercial fisheries are turned into fishmeal to feed farmed fish or chicken. So, if you eat chicken, make sure it is grain-fed!

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Respect the penguin’s home. 

If you live near an African penguin area, like Boulder’s Beach in Simonstown, respect the boundaries of their nesting sites. Lobby to ensure that the areas are not threatened.

Visit the penguin’s homes

The African penguin colonies in Boulders Beach and Betty’s Bay are super popular to visit with tourists and locals alike. Seeing these birds in their natural habitat will inspire you to take care of them.

Lobby to look after the birds. 

Contact the authorities to ensure they are doing their best to look after this species. You can email Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment via the #NOOW website.

Get involved in coastal cleanups. 

Pollution in our oceans is a threat to the penguins and all marine life. Cleanup events like Trash Bash break the cycle of pollution. If you don’t live on the coast, arrange a waterway cleanup!

Use environmentally friendly household cleaning products. 

Keep our waterways clean – all water ends up in the sea, so ensure that you only put products down your drain that are environmentally friendly.

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Credit: Steve Benjamin


Use less plastic.

Crude oil is one of the raw materials that make up plastic products. Relying less on oil means it will not end up in the sea, where it is hazardous to penguins. A simple way to reduce your plastic use includes buying reusable shopping bags, coffee cups, and drinking straws.

Buy local products. 

Choose a product you will only buy locally, perhaps food or clothing. Then it does not have to be shipped in – that means less chance of oil spills. Furthermore, the more people demand local, the less carbon emissions will be created.


Join a Waddle. 

On African Penguin Awareness Day (14 October 2023), #NOOW has galvanised many organisations and people to “waddle” in support of the African penguin. We’re hosting a “waddle” around the V&A Waterfront to show support and generate awareness for #NOOW.

Pass on what you’ve learned. 

The more people know about the plight of the African penguin, and how to help, the greater the chance of us making a difference.

Pick up litter

Anywhere, anytime. This means the litter won’t end up in the sea, where it can harm our marine life. Join our next Trash Bash!

Get involved. 

Why not celebrate at least one environmental day this year? What about our Waddle? Or Earth Hour?

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