Walking the walk for penguins
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Cape Town - Penguin colonies from Gansbaai to Simon’s Town had some unusual company over the past five days: a group of conservationists dressed in black and white who waddled 122km to raise awareness about the plight of the African penguin.
Animal behaviourists Hayley McLellan from the Two Oceans Aquarium and Gabby Harris of Durban’s uShaka Marine World, along with a support team, set off on their Waddling for a Week trip last week as a visible and fun way of getting people talking about the highly endangered species.
Their journey ended in Simon’s Town on Saturday, at Boulders Beach, a site famous for its penguin colony.
Waddlers from several institutions joined McLellan and Harris at various stages. Some of the institutions represented included the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, Sanccob and Gold Reef City.
Two Oceans Aquarium spokeswoman Renee Leeuwner said the waddlers had tackled the final leg of their walk with the help of a group of penguin enthusiasts who joined them on the 15km from Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg to the Boulders Beach Lodge on Saturday.
“The rain also joined in, but this did not deter the group and by Saturday the waddlers had become quite accustomed to walking in the rain as they had experienced typical Cape Town winter weather thoughout their trek,” said Leeuwner.
“Arriving at the finish, everyone was certainly relieved, but also very proud and with hope. Along the entire walk, the waddlers met like-minded and -hearted individuals,” she said.
The waddle was part of Penguin Promises, a campaign to get people talking about African penguins and to teach them about bigger threats to penguin populations, including overfishing and pollution.
The campaign is not asking people for money, but wants volunteers to adopt at least one pro-penguin behaviour, ranging from working with conservation organisations to buying more local products and less plastic.