Plight of the Penguins

Penguins are one of the most popular species on our planet, thanks in part to their fascinating communities and charming personalities. They can be found across the southern hemisphere, predominantly in colder climates, with Antarctica being home to 5 different species. There are, however, penguins who reside in warmer climes, such as Argentina, Australia and even Southern Africa, like the jackass penguin (pictured). The plight of the penguin is normally linked to the increase in global warming and the decline of habitats. However, I need to tell you about another huge problem threatening to put certain species of penguin alongside the dodo in the extinction books.

Almost one-fifth of marine fish caught globally are turned into fishmeal. Small fish, such as anchovies and pilchards, are caught, ground down and turned into meal, then used to feed industrially reared farm animals such as salmon, pigs and chickens.

So how does this affect penguins? As we take more and more small fish from our oceans, we are also removing the penguins’ primary source of food. The South African (or jackass) penguin population has suffered a steep decline in recent years. Overfishing has meant that they have to swim further and further in search of food, affecting breeding rates.

There are now only some 50,000 of these endangered South African penguins left in the wild. If things carry on as they are, experts believe they could become extinct within 15 years.

I visited Boulders Beach in South Africa to see for myself the impact our food choices are having on these charming creatures. It makes me sick and angry that like other species the African penguin is being driven to extinction because of factory farming.

We must build a more sustainable future by fixing our food system now, before it’s too late to save the world’s wildlife. We can all agree, we don’t want a future where the only place you can see wildlife is behind barriers in a zoo. We can all make a difference at home, every day, by eating less and better meat, such as pasture-fed, free range or organic and by campaigning to end factory farming in favour of regenerative agriculture.

This April 25th is World Penguin Day and is timed to coincide with the annual northern penguin march to the sea. It is the perfect opportunity to talk to your families and friends about the importance of our food choices. Please help highlight and share the plight of the South African penguins and the impact we can all have. This short video is a great place to start:

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