Penguin waddlers arrive in Stanford

  • 24 April 2013 | Ann Kunz

Yesterday the Waddlers completed the first 20km leg of their long journey, from Gansbaai to Stanford. They were joined by the Stanford Bird Club, South African Tourism staff and pupils from a few local schools.

Penguin waddlers Paul Lotter, Tarryn Abrahams, Jane Dlamini, Gabby Harris, Natasha Lotter, Peter Baloi and Zak Harris

This is the third year in a row that a group of marine enthusiasts has walked to raise awareness for the plight of the endangered African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) a species endemic to Southern Africa.

Today the Waddlers are walking between Standford and Hermanus. The weather has been accommodating and even though they feel a little sore, none has blisters and spirits remain high. They are not only going the extra mile to raise awareness for these endangered penguins, they are literally waddling the distance – 120km, from Gansbaai to Simon’s Town.

Classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, African penguins number less than 60 000, less than half their numbers 10 years ago. The purpose of the walk is to encourage South Africans to make changes in their daily lives, in turn effecting positive change in the marine environment.

African penguins grow to about 70cm tall and weigh up to 5kg. They have black stripes and black spots on their chests. The spots are like human fingerprints, and every penguin is different. The distinctive black and white “tuxedo” coats are a clever camouflage. The white front hides them from underwater predators looking upwards, and black for predators looking down onto the dark water.

Seeing these fascinating creatures thriving in their natural environment is may not be enjoyed by future generations since experts estimate they will be extinct in less than 15 years if drastic changes are not made to protect the birds.

Waddle for a Week invites anyone living along the route to join them for a day, or even a short distance of their long walk. For more information, visit www.penguinpromises.com or contact Ann Kunz on ann@seaworld.org.za or 031 328 8152.

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