Today, two thirds of all penguin species are listed on the IUCN Red List as "vulnerable" (6 species) or even "endangered" (5 species). Populations of many penguin species have declined dramatically in the last years. For many of the threats penguins face, WE humans are responsible: habitat destruction, climate change, guano mining, environmental pollution, etc.
But nothing is lost yet – a change in our minds can help to sustain penguins and many other organisms. There are many organisations founded to protect penguins in different habitats. And also YOU can become active and make YOUR contribution to penguin conservation!
In marine protection areas fishing activities can be limited or even forbidden to reduce the competition for food between fishermen and penguins. Protection areas on land can avoid disturbance of breeding penguins by humans and habitat destruction. Some islands are even prevented from human colonisation so that the nature is not influenced by humans.
Some organisations offer medical aid for penguins that are injured or ill. Moreover, abandoned chicks are coddled up to keep the population sizes stable.
No conservation without conversation!
In conservation it is mandatory to communicate with other people to make them aware of the threats that face penguins. That is why many organisations arrange talks, discussions or other informational events. Especially, education in schools is very important to teach younger people in sustainable handling of penguins and their environment.
Restrictions by law
For conservational organisations is is advantageous to work closely together with the government. In this way, restrictions by law can be achieved. Many actions which could harm penguins are now forbidden in some regions: egg collection, guano mining, environmental pollution or fishing methods that are dangerous for penguins.
In research it is very important to collect data about penguins:
The evaluation of these data can provide information about the healthcare of penguins and possible connections between different factors: a decline of the population could be a consequence of longer distances between nest site and feeding ground, the reduced weight of chicks and adults could be also a consequence of this problem. Now the reason has to be found out, why penguins have to bear longer distances: does their prey migrate due to climate change or has commercial fishing increased at the usual feeding grounds? If the reason is clear, directed actions could be suggested to avoid the reduction of the populations of penguins. So, research is the key to conservation.
Many of the actions of organisations you see above are very cost-intensive. That is why the organisations appreciate financial support. So why not make a donation? You can often give some money as a normal donation, but sometimes there are offered special campaigns. A very common campain is for example "adopt-a-penguin". You pay a fixed price for "your" penguin and you often get a picture of it or you can even track it via GPS.
Some organisations are dependent on volunteer helpers. So, if you do not have that much money, you can also help by offering them your time and effort. In regions where wild penguins are living, some organisations need help for example in rehabilitation or education. Also some zoos offer the opportunity that volunteers can help within the penguin enclosure or by answering questions of the visitors.
Avoid plastic bags!
It is estimated that up to one trillion plastic bags are used per year worldwide, but one plastic bag is only used for 25 minutes on average. This short-lasting pleasure leads to severe consequences: plastic is a very stable material, so it takes hundered to thousands of years for its degradation. Consequently, if you throw away your plastic trash carelessly, it will be preserved in the environment for a very long time and can cause great harm to many animals and plants. Especially, marine organisms like penguins are affected negatively by plastic that got into the oceans. Plastic debris, also called "microplastic", can be ingested by penguins easily and can lead to suffocation. Many penguins and other organisms are dying due to the accumulation of plastic in our environment.
But YOU can help to reduce the plastic bag production easily by reusing the same plastic bags for several times or by avoiding plastic bags completely.
How you can prevent the accumulation of plastic in the environment:
Only eat certified seafood
Penguins often end as bycatch in fisher nets or have to starve because of overfishing. You can reduce these threats by eating seafood that is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. These organisations campaign for sustainable and ecologically aware fishing methods. That means that they give advices for the reduction of bycatch and they pay attention to the preservation of fish populations and other maritime life.
Our earth is the basis of life, not only for penguins but also for us! If you follow these simple advices, YOU can help to reduce climate change: