Ocean Watch ambassador goes waddling to save African Penguins

Within days of becoming an Ocean Watch ambassador, the winner of Roving Reporters 2017 Soul Surfer Award, Diony Lalieu is in action promoting penguin conservation.

Diony, who came fourth in the senior women’s division of the SA Longboard Surfing Championships in Durban last week, is joining hundreds of conservation enthusiasts on a 124 km “waddle” from Gansbaai to Simonstown.

Organised by Penguin Promises, the waddle takes place over five days, starting on Monday and aims to raise awareness of the fact that the African Penguin could be extinct in the wild within 15 years. This fact has inspired people to raise awareness about the plight of this iconic species by going “waddling” for a week

This year’s waddle comprises five legs: Mon 8th May  – 20km Gansbaai to Stanford; Tues 9th May – 24km Stanford to Hermanus; Wed 10th May – 24km  Hermanus to Kleinmond; Thurs 11th May – 30km Kleinmond to Stony Point penguin colony; Fri  12th May – 11km Gordon’s Bay to Strand beach; Sat 13th May – 15km  Muizenberg Surfer’s Corner to Boulders beach penguin colony

Diony will be taking part in the final leg on Saturday, May 13, as an Ocean Watch ambassador for Roving Reporters.

“What would you think if I told you that from the over 1.5 million penguins in the early 1900’s there are just under 40 000 left?” asks Diony.

“In fact, even in 2000 there were still over 200 000 of these iconic birds. Steady declines in breeding populations are a result of the constant drone of commercial fishing, egg harvesting, disease (avian malaria) and oil spills. In fact, the state of our penguins is a good mark of the state of our oceans. If we continue abusing our seas, it is estimated that the entire African penguin species will be wiped out within next 15 years!”

It is time for us all to take action, one little step at a time. So please, don your penguin outfits and join me to support this worthy cause.”

According to Penguin Promises, the idea of the penguin waddle started in 2010 when Gabrielle Harris, then curator of Mammal & Birds at uShaka Sea World, felt overwhelmed by escalating environmental concerns.

She contacted her colleague Hayley McLellan who at the time, was caring for the penguin colony at the Two Oceans Aquarium to chat about her concerns and ideas which included walking from the Namibian border to Cape Town.  Her idea was to raise general environmental awareness  with a specific focus on the plight of the African Penguin along the route.

Hayley managed to convince Gabby that neither of them were in a position to tackle something quite so epic and together came up with a more manageable plan to walk from Gansbaai to Simonstown.

With that, the Penguin Waddle and Penguin Promises campaign was launched. The Penguin Promises campaign tagline, “We don’t want your money honey, we want you love” promotes behaviour change which is beneficial to  the environment.  Individuals who make a promise commit to taking steps to minimise their use of natural resources and harmful environmental practices as they go about their daily lives.

The initial waddle was supported by the  Animal Keepers Association of Africa (AKAA) and included a handful of staff members from uShaka Sea World, Two Oceans Aquarium and National  Zoological Gardens.

Many positive initiatives have stemmed from the waddle which has grown exponentially over the years.

The sponsors  of the 2017 Waddle are:

Two Oceans Aquarium www.aquarium.co.za

uShaka Sea World www.seaworld.org.za

Old Mutual Finance www.omfinance.co.za

SPAR, Western Cape https://www.spar.co.za

De Kat Safaris http://www.dekatsafaris.com/

XXL Brands www.xxlbrands.co.za

Boulders Beach Lodge www.bouldersbeachlodge.com

Saxon Lodge www.saxonlodge.co.za

The Muize http://www.themuize.co.za/

Manor on the Bay http://www.manoronthebay.co.za/

Windsor Hotel www.windsorhotel.co.za

Stanford Hills www.stanfordhills.co.za

Grail Programmes www.grailprogrammes.org.za

Better Earth www.betterearth.co.za

SRE Developments sredev.com

Afromedia www.afromedia.co.za

Roving Reporters Ocean Watch ambassadors programme was inspired by the award-winning Makotikoti Arts Project and is supported by the Human Elephant Foundation and the Blue Fund – a joint initiative of Grindrod Bank and Wildlands that also promotes penguin conversation.



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