CELEBRATE WORLD PENGUIN DAY - 25 APRIL
Cape Town, 25 April – World Penguin Day celebrates penguins wherever they are found; from the snow and ice of Antarctica to the sunshine of Africa. In the midst of the celebrations it also serves to remind people that many penguins are in danger of extinction and need our help.
While penguins are well-known from animated movies and loved because of their cute, almost human-like characteristics, they are less well-known as one of the most threatened groups of seabirds in the world. Competition with fisheries, mortality due to bycatch (primarily in gillnets), marine pollution, disease and climate change all threaten this iconic group of seabirds.
“This is why BirdLife International has launched a new global campaign to raise public awareness of the plight of penguins and funds for vital penguin conservation work across the globe. BirdLife South Africa endorses the campaign which we have helped develop” says Dr Taryn Morris, Coastal Seabird Conservation Manager at BirdLife South Africa. “We encourage everyone to visit the website https://penguin.birdlife.org and help #protectapenguin”.
BirdLife Partners, including BirdLife South Africa, are already working to tackle some of these threats, but the size of the challenge demands that efforts are redoubled. “We aim to improve the fortunes of penguins globally by tackling the major threats driving declines.” says Dr Morris. The African Penguin is under threat from a shortage of sardine and anchovy within reach of their breeding colonies. “Our work focuses on scientific and advocacy work to ensure more fish in the sea for penguins and an ambitious new project to establish new colonies of penguins in areas of high food availability” says Christina Hagen, the Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation at BirdLife South Africa.
World Penguin Day also coincides with BirdLife South Africa’s Annual General Meeting, which this year is taking place on a seabird watching cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia giving rise to the catchy title of “Flock at Sea”. The birders on board will celebrate the day by dressing up as penguins for dinner, making “healthy ocean pledges”, and learning about the diversity of penguins and the threats they face.