03 June 2011

Waddlers campaign for Penguin Promises

Penguin Promises poster
by AKAA.
Some rights reserved.
SOUTH AFRICA - "We don't want your money, honey, we want your love" is the attention-grabbing slogan of Penguin Promises, a new campaign organised by the Animal Keepers Association of Africa (AKAA) to raise awareness of the plight of the endangered African penguin.

The aim of Penguin Promises is to get people to commit to an action that will assist in saving the penguin - such as choosing to eat sustainable fish species, getting involved in coastal clean-ups, giving up one plastic product, buying local products - rather than donating money.

To generate awareness of the campaign, from 23 May to 28 May, Hayley McLellan from Two Oceans Aquarium and Gabby Harris from uShaka SeaWorld, along with a support team, completed a "Waddling for a Week" coastal trek.

They started their journey in Gansbaai, which is near the Dyer Island penguin colony, walked through coastal towns, and finished in Boulders Beach in Simon's Town - home to what is probably South Africa's most famous penguin colony. During the 122km walk they were joined by people from zoological and conservation institutions such as the National Zoological Gardens and SANCCOB (and by a fair amount of rain).

Ms McLellan told Times Live, "The support we have rustled up has been overwhelming - but most South Africans have no clue about this species and how crucial it is.

"We think of the African penguin as an 'indicator' species - in other words, the moment we notice that it is in decline, this is also an indication that the environment is degrading, so we're asking that everyone makes a 'penguin promise' - eat less meat; drive less often; plant a veggie garden."

The Penguin Promises campaign will be scientifically evaluated to ensure that it meets its objectives, and the research will help to inform future projects.

Penguin Promises (accessed 2 June 2011)
Penguin promises by Tiara Walters, 27 May 2011, Times Live
Walking the walk for penguins, 30 May 2011, Cape Argus

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