09 October 2013

The race to save the African penguin is on

Five penguins. Seven days. One race against time.

SOUTH AFRICA - Since the turn of the 20th century we have lost 99% of the entire African penguin population due to the decline of fish, oil spills, loss of habitat and imbalanced ecosystems.

Running from 7 to 13 October, the Penguin Run project celebrates the perilous journey undertaken by five African penguins. The birds have been fitted with satellite tracking devices and will take to the high seas in a race to bulk up ahead of their fast approaching moulting season, where they will lose over half of their body weight.

The project calls on everyone to unite in a mass awareness campaign supporting the African penguin by backing and tracking them via thepenguinrun.com, where people can view the live tracking map, and following @_thepenguinrun for live updates.

You can back your favourite penguin by following them on their unique Twitter handles and sparing some tweets of encouragement (I'm backing Titan). The leader-board will show which penguin is winning in relation to the total kilometres they have clocked.

The tracking project, an initiative from the Save our Seabirds (SOS) Festival and Birdlife South Africa, aims to gather vital data which will aid not only in the conservation of the African Penguin, but of our oceans as well.

“African Penguins are an environmental indicator species, and they allow us to measure the the health of our oceans,” said Dr Ross Wanless of the BirdLife South Africa Seabird Division.

“By understanding where they go and protecting those sites, we will hopefully restore balance to the  ecosystem as a whole.”

They may not hear you (penguins don’t speak human, that’s ridiculous), but by spreading the word you are taking part in something that could very well save this little guy from extinction, and in turn, the broader marine ecosystem.

The Penguin Run takes place over the seven days of the SOS Festival, which is a National Marine Week initiative.

The race to save the African penguin is on [press release], 7 October 2013, BirdLife South Africa

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