Since the turn of the 20th century we’ve lost 99% of the entire African Penguin population, which is attributed to the decline of fish, oil spills, loss of habitat and imbalanced ecosystems. In response to this alarming fact, The Jupiter Drawing Room Utopia have worked together with BirdLife South Africa to create The Penguin Run: a race to save the African Penguin.
This interactive campaign follows the journeys of five African penguins – Fluke, Hank, Siren, Skip and Titan – who have been fitted with satellite tracking devices. Their movements are tracked in real time and displayed on the Penguin Run website. Here there is also a leader board to indicate which penguin is winning in relation to the total kilometres they have clocked so far.
The Penguin Run aims to determine where penguins go before and after their moulting season – both equally crucial. Before moulting, penguins have to “fatten up” in preparation for losing over half of their body weight. After moulting, the hungry and thin penguins must once again go to sea in search of food. Each of these periods are complicated by the fact that the fish they depend on are becoming increasingly scarce, and the penguins are forced to swim extreme distances to feed.
The tracking project is an initiative from the Save our Seabirds Festival and BirdLife South Africa. In addition to the five “racing” penguins, sixteen GPS tracking devices are currently in use. The vital data that they are able to gather can aid in the conservation of the African Penguin as well as our oceans. According to Dr. Ross Wanless of BirdLife SA, “African Penguins are an environmental indicator species, and they allow us to measure the health of our oceans. By understanding where they go and protecting those sites, we will hopefully restore balance to the ecosystem as a whole.”
This mass awareness campaign is calling on the public to support the African Penguin. Here are some of the ways you can get involved:
Back your favourite penguin by following them on their unique Twitter handle.
“Help a homebird out” by making a donation to the BirdLife SA Seabird Division here.
The Penguin Run takes place over the seven days of the SOS Festival, from the 7th to the 13th October. Visit thepenguinrun.com to find out more.
Utopia has donated all the creative work for the campaign, including the colourfully illustrated facts below.