Penguin Run

The African Penguin population has undergone a staggering 80% decrease over the last 50 years. When the first official population census was conducted in 1956, there were about 141 000 pairs. More than fifty years later, the population is at only 20 000 pairs. These charismatic birds breed only at a few islands along the coast of South Africa and Namibia and their numbers are continuing to dwindle. Penguins are threatened by a myriad of sources from predation by seals (and possibly sharks) to the potential for a catastrophic oil spill to a lack of food. The impact of these threats will only be exacerbated as the penguin population decreases further. The lack of suitable food is the threat that is the most controversial. Penguins eat mainly sardines and anchovies, which are also the target of the commercial purse-seine fishing industry. However, the role fishing has played in the decrease is hotly debated. In the mid-1990s the distribution of the sardines and anchovies shifted from the west coast of South Africa to the south coast. While this shift has almost certainly contributed to the population decrease, the colonies on the south coast have continued to decrease in numbers.

The African Penguin is one of only two seabirds that breed along our coastline that is listed as globallyEndangered by BirdLife International. Rather than do nothing about it, David Chamberlain is running a stupendous distance to raise awareness and funds. Today he is in Swellendam!

He is running 2 700 km, raising awareness about penguin conservation as he goes. Dave will be running the entire length of the African Penguin’s natural range, from Walvis Bay in Namibia to Port Elizabeth- a distance of approximately 2700km. His mission is to challenge ordinary people to do something extraordinary. To sit up, take note of their surroundings, and do something above and beyond themselves, for a cause that really needs their assistance. He will be running unassisted, with only a pram to carry his water and equipment. He will be relying on the goodwill of ordinary people – to give him water as he runs through the desert, or to collect him at the end of a day’s run and give him a place to pitch his tent, have a shower, or recharge his phone.