Waddling for penguins
The #NotOnOurWatch (#NOOW) campaign isn’t taken aback. #NOOW was conceptualised and planned as a long-term project to save the endemic and endangered African penguins in the wild before 2035 when it will be too late. There are three steps to achieving this: raise awareness, garner support and then tackle the hard issues.
“On 14 October the support for #NOOW was phenomenal. Thousands of people waddled their way around the world, across seven continents and with the help and support of more than 100 institutions,” said Dr Judy Mann, President of the International Zoo Educators Association, Executive Head of Strategy at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation and a founder of the #NotOnOurWatch survival campaign.
“We’ll continue to build on that momentum with letters to Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and events next year on 25 April for World Penguin Day and 12 October for International African Penguin Awareness Day. But we’re also going to dig deeper into the harder issues, one of which will be supporting scientists, conservationists, the government, and the fisheries industry to come to feasible agreements with outcomes everyone can live with, including the African penguin,” Dr Mann said.
Backers of the #NOOW campaign, the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation won’t be taking a back seat either.
In November, the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town will be unveiling an exceptional new penguin exhibit, which will ensure that as many as 50 000 visitors a month walk away with a deeper understanding of the plight of the African penguin.
And it’s not just in South Africa that the campaign continues. The Florida Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, Zoos Victoria, Penguins International and AZA SAFE African Penguin have got the African penguins’ back. As do institutions in Japan, Tasmania, New Zealand, Australia, the UAE, France, Croatia, Poland, Italy, Mozambique, Canada, Peru and Chile, who all took part in International African Penguin Awareness Day on 14 October.
“From our experience at AZA SAFE - Saving Animals From Extinction - we know it’s possible to protect the African penguin. Its extinction doesn’t have to be inevitable. But it will get worse before it gets better,” said Dr Patricia McGill, Program Leader for AZA SAFE African Penguin and Senior Conservation Scientist at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, USA.
“The important thing about conservation is to know that there will be wins and losses on the way to achieving your goal. It’s like everything in life. The trick is to never give up. We’re never going to give up on the African penguin.”
#NOOW’s worldwide waddle was endorsed by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development as a Decade Activity.