From The Field: African Penguin Not On Our Watch

From The Field: African Penguin Not On Our Watch

 how you can support them with Hansie en Grietjie.
From The Field: The Endangered Wildlife Trust Reading From The Field: African Penguin Not On Our Watch 4 minutes

Welcome to an insightful exploration of the conservation organisation "African Penguin Not On Our Watch" (NOOW). This organisation stands at the forefront of protecting the African Penguin, the only penguin species in Africa. Let's delve into their critical work and understand why these penguins are so vital.

Why Are African Penguins Going Extinct?

African Penguins face several threats that are pushing them towards extinction:

  • Dwindling availability of small pelagic fish: This shortage is largely due to changes in the environment and excessive fishing, with competition from commercial fisheries making matters worse.
  • Pollution from oil and noise: Their colonies are often located near busy shipping lanes and ports, exposing them to the dangers of oil spills, especially with the increase in ship-to-ship fuel transfers, notably in Algoa Bay. Moreover, the noise pollution from maritime activities and seismic surveys presents a growing threat.
  • Alteration of their breeding habitats : African Penguins traditionally nested in guano burrows, but the extraction of guano has led to a loss of this critical nesting material. Efforts are being made to restore these habitats through revegetation and the introduction of artificial nests.
  • Disease: The threat of disease outbreaks necessitates continuous and proactive measures.

    Ecological and Economic Importance of African Penguins

    The African Penguin is not just an iconic species but also plays a vital role both ecologically and economically. From an ecological perspective, they are instrumental in transferring nutrients from the ocean to land, contributing to the health of nearby ecosystems. They also play a role in sustaining healthy fish populations by preying on smaller or weaker fish, and indirectly assist other seabirds in finding food. From an economic standpoint, their disappearance would lead to significant job losses in tourism and conservation. Their presence at tourist hotspots like Boulders Beach and Stony Point is a key driver of eco-tourism. As the sole endemic penguin species in Africa, their loss would be an irreplaceable blow to biodiversity.

        Supporting African Penguins Through NOOW

        NOOW offers various ways for individuals to contribute to the conservation of African Penguins:

        • Advocacy: Encourage policy change by emailing the minister.

        • Participation in Waddles: Raise awareness by participating in waddle events, dressing in black and white, and sharing on social media with the hashtag #NOOW. Download placards for waddles.

        • Everyday Life Changes: Reduce waste, use eco-friendly products, recycle, and support sustainable fishing practices as listed on the SASSI list.

        • Residential Harmony: Adopt safe practices for residents living near colonies, such as keeping dogs leashed and being cautious while driving.

        • Tour Operators and Tourists: Ensure responsible tourism and spread awareness about penguin conservation.

        • Zoo/Aquarium/Nature Conservation Community: Get involved in the #NOOW Penguin Waddle Event and promote conservation efforts.

        Every time you buy a pair of Hansie en Grietjie African Penguin socks, you're contributing to the protection of the African Penguin and bolstering the essential conservation work of NOOW. This simple action has a profound effect, demonstrating your dedication to the well-being of these charming birds.


        The plight of the African Penguin is extremely critical. Historically abundant in millions, their numbers have alarmingly dwindled, leaving only approximately 10,000 breeding pairs in South Africa and 4,000 in Namibia. At this crucial point, the African Penguin is facing an imminent threat of functional extinction by 2035, a situation where the population may become too small for its own survival.

        Since being classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2013, the need for intervention to save these penguins has become urgent. .The NOOW dedicated efforts in conservation, advocacy, and awareness are pivotal in reversing this alarming decline. It's imperative for us to support organizations like NOOW to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to observe these extraordinary birds in their natural habitat. The time for action is now; any delay could mean losing these iconic birds forever. Let's join hands with NOOW and make a lasting difference for the African Penguin.