The biggest ever worldwide ‘gathering’ to highlight the looming extinction of African penguins will take place on International African Penguin Awareness Day (October 14), with #NotOnOurWatch (#NOOW) events planned in countries from the US to France, South Africa, Mozambique and Japan.
All South Africa’s major cities are hosting big ‘waddles’ on this day.
The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town will be waddling at the V&A Waterfront and has helped to arrange a waddle, in association with Marine Dynamics and I Am Water, from Simon’s Town to Boulders Beach – the home of about 9% of the African penguin population.
uShaka Sea World is going big in Durban with the Point park run, face-painting for the kids and big-screen videos.
The Johannesburg Zoo and the Penguin Protection Parade at Emmarentia Dam have South Africa’s largest city covered, while the Southern African Foundation For The Conservation Of Coastal Birds is waddling in Gqeberha.
The National Zoological Garden in Pretoria will be awarding prizes and giving penguin talks during its zoo-based waddle.
“The support has been tremendous and heart-warming and this is only the beginning. Conservation is hard work and sometimes it feels like not enough people care. But with this global waddle, it’s clear that there’s a ground swell of support and people really do care about the plight of the African penguin,” said Dr Judy Mann, the South African-based President of the International Zoo Educators Association, Executive Head of Strategy at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation and a founder of the #NOOW African penguin survival campaign.
The #NOOW campaign is barely a year old, and was conceptualised by scientists and conservationists to raise awareness and encourage the South African government to enact laws and protections to safeguard against endemic African penguins from going extinct in the wild in just 12 years.
Their numbers have dropped 99% in just 100 years. The importance of this movement has been recognised by Unesco and the October 14 waddles have been endorsed by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development as a Decade Activity.
Other organisations holding small waddles and events include Animal Ocean and the Sentinel Ocean Alliance in Hout Bay, Ocean Pledge in Cape Town, Secret Sunrise Durban, Century City park run, Divetek and Ngiri Safaris in Pretoria, Siso Dwana and SeaXplore and Sharklife in Sodwana, the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in Gansbaai, the Betty’s Bay Conservancy, the Betty’s Bay park run and the Kogelberg Biosphere.