Walk the Talk for African Penguins

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

This week will see 120km along the spectacular False Bay coastline scattered with a team of energetic waddlers clad in black and white, committed to the plight of the endangered African Penguin. By raising increased awareness during the six day walk, those who have made a ‘penguin promise’ also strive toward a reduction of carbon emissions, and a better earth.

The Penguin Promises Waddle supports the plight of the African Penguin, which according to scientists could be extinct in the wild within 15 years. Current data suggest only about 60 000 of these endemic birds to be left on African shores, are facing many threats to its population dwindling at an alarming rate, through a loss of food source due to overfishing, climate change and habitat destruction.

As a non fundraising, but rather awareness initiative by Animal Keepers Association of Africa (AKAA) first initiated last year, the event comprises a group of animal keepers from the Two Oceans Aquarium, uShaka Seaworld, National Zoological Gardens, Lory Park and SANCCOB. Coastal communities from Gansbaai to Simon’s Town rally together in support of the Waddlers who are sponsored by Cape Nature, as well as Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Century City. Walkers will be making their from Monday to Saturday this week from Gansbaai and Simonstown, also home to two colonies of African Penguins at Dyer Island and Boulders Beach respectively.

Following the completion of daily routes ranging from 15 up to 30 km, weary bodies will be received at overnight accommodation, sponsored by property owners of guesthouses along the coast, in co-operation with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and local traffic control. Waddlers will be staying as guests of the Great White House and White Shark Guest House in Kleinbaai, the Windsor Hotel in Hermanus, the Mosaic Farm in Stanford, and Die Rotse in Kleinmond. After the most grueling day stretching over 30km, walkers will overnight at Aandkoor Guesthouse In Bettys Bay before setting off from Gordons Bay to Strand. Whale Watchers Luxury guesthouses in Muizenberg will receive walkers on Friday night, in preparation for the final stretch on Saturday.

Capetonians dressed in black and white can join in the last and shortest leg of 15km from Muizenberg to Simon’s Town, home to one of mainland Africa’s smaller African Penguin colonies. The picturesque Boulders Beach in Simon's Town is where Cape Peninsula National Parks have established boardwalks from where African Penguins can be viewed in enclosed areas, where they are protected and restrained from entering residential properties hugging the coastline. Simonstown Tourism claims Boulders beach to remain the only place in the world where humans and penguins share the same swimming area.

Previously known as the Jackass Penguin of a slightly different appearance, found in South America, the name African Penguin has now been adopted to distinguish penguins inhabiting the African continent and inshore islands, such as Robben Island off Table Bay. St Croix island near Port Elizabeth is home to SA’s largest colony and other colonies also exist at Cape Town’s Dassen Island near Yzerfontein.

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