Penguin Promises is a campaign which was ‘hatched’ in 2011. The AKA (Animal Keepers of Africa) chose an endangered species to create effective awareness in support of it. The African penguin was chosen as their numbers are currently as low as 40,000 birds in the wild compared to a very healthy population, about 100 years ago, of approximately 1.5 million. Scientists claim that this species could go extinct within the next 15 years should environmental conditions not improve in general. This bird is endemic to southern Africa and is considered an iconic animal as well as an indicator species, clearly showing us the state of our oceans.
Most important to recognise is that the Penguin Promises campaign will always focus on awareness, versus fundraising, therefore our slogan “We don’t want you money honey we want your love” says it all. It is generally felt that when people donate money to a cause they very often feel momentarily better about themselves and then walk away perhaps not really knowing or caring what happens to the money or species thereafter.
Penguin Promises clearly proposes that each and every person who has the privilege of living on our beautiful planet looks closely at the way in which they are in relationship with nature, and makes a conscious choice to change an aspect/s of their behavior that will have a positive effect thereby reducing their environmental impact.
A few examples of penguin promises are – recycling/reusing/reducing, saving water and electricity, planting an organic vegetable garden, using eco-responsible cleaners, refusing drinking straws and plastic shopping bags.
We all know that many people making a small lifestyle change can make an enormous difference! The time for talking about awareness is over, it is only action that will count now..
Eager animal keepers from various animal facilities around the country as well as general members of the public take part in the Waddle which spans six days. A distance of approximately 120km is covered on the roads between Gansbaai – where Dyer Island African penguin breeding colony exists; through Betty’s Bay – Stony Point penguin colony; ending in Simonstown – Boulders Beach penguin colony. The Waddlers are well supported by a driver/s on the team who makes sure that all logistics as well as effective media coverage are attended to.
Waddles 2012-14 received much appreciated sponsorship from Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Old Mutual Finance sponsored Waddle 2014 and are, excitingly, the confirmed Waddle sponsors for 2015-17. Accommodation at each night’s stop is always kindly sponsored by establishments of all types along this coastline. Penguin Promises also benefits from the endorsement of PAAZA (Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria).
The response we received from media last year was most impressive. Word of this endeavor clearly travelled far and wide and each day we experienced a handful of local newspapers, radio stations and television groups making a fine effort to cover our journey and the important reasons for it. The event achieved a notable R265,000 worth of media coverage in 2014.
The public were equally supportive and showed their excitement in each town through which we waddled as we held our impossible-to-miss bright yellow hoot for penguins signs aloft in order to attract maximum attention. We counted over 7000 hoots for the 6 days walk in 2014! The importance of achieving as many hoots as possible is that this reflects ‘action learning’ meaning that the hootee is bound to remember our campaign more so than the motorist who simply drives on by without participating, by hooting of course..
Over the years many learners have joined en-route to waddle alongside us for short stretches. It is so inspiring to see the youth embrace our mission and demonstrate this by either dressing in black and white, creating art depicting their affection for the African penguin, or raising small meaningful collections of money which of course we acknowledge and pay over to SANCCOB (The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) for their important rehabilitation work. Once they grasp our vision each learner is always eager to commit to a personal penguin, environmental, promise of their choice.
The Waddle has become a successful annual event and we look forward to increased interest and awareness each year. This entire conservation project would not be possible without the generosity, willingness and actions taken by all who are involved. The African penguin salutes all who have and are yet to join us in this vital campaign
More information is available on www.penguinpromises.com.