Penguin Waddle highlights the plight of penguins

Tracy Shaw uShaka Sea World animal behaviourist with Dee the 33-year-old African penguin and Varsha Naidu, Marine Educator at uShaka Sea World

The 4th annual Penguin Promises Waddle, along a 120km section of the Cape coastline, began on Monday 10 March 2014 in Gansbaai and is scheduled to end on 15 March 2014 in Simon's Town. 

The group of 16 penguin enthusiasts tackling the 120km walk comprises animal keepers from around the country. Four uShaka Sea World staff are among these walkers, who are calling on all South Africans to commit to making a change in their daily lives that will effect positive change in the environment.

The Penguin Promises campaign was hatched at uShaka Sea World in 2011, in collaboration with the Animal Keepers’ Association of Africa. Unlike many campaigns that ask for money, this campaign asks people to make a promise to the penguins. With the tagline, "We don’t want your money honey, we want your love," the waddle is not a fundraising campaign but focuses instead on raising awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin.

According to the 2010 IUCN Red Data List, the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is heading for extinction.

View the image gallery here to see more penguin and Waddle images.

African penguin numbers in the wild have declined by up to 90% over the last 100 years. A 2012 census done in South African indicates that we lost over 1 500 pairs in a year. The latest research indicates that there are less than 25 000 breeding pairs of penguins left in the wild. It is these facts that led to the species being declared as endangered. 

Ushaka Sea World staff member Tracy Shaw is among the waddlers, and although a little nervous ahead of the daunting 120km walk, is determined to complete the distance over the next five days.  

Penguins have been Tracy’s passion since she was in primary school – their resilience and sheer will to survive and care for their offspring astounds and inspires her. She completed her honours and master's studying African penguins and is determined to do whatever she can to stop the alarming decline in African penguin numbers. 

Tracy believes that working together is the only way we can make a difference, which is why she’s encouraging the public to eat only sustainably sourced seafood and stop using single-use plastic bags. 

To find out more about the campaign and to get ideas on what you can do to reduce your environmental footprint, visit www.penguinpromises.com.

The route being followed by the penguin waddlers over 120km along the Cape coast

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