WATCH: Penguin conservation in Patagonia

2018-11-09 22:00
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Patagonia is the place where you can see what the planet looked like before human civilisation. You can drive for hours without seeing another human being or car. 

SEE: Quick Guide to Argentina: Visa-free travel for South Africans

Puntan Ninfas, Patagonia, Argentina

There is no place to hide out here, no trees - there is emptiness. It is a place that people will either have a love for or not at all - there is no middle ground. This is a place that will evoke wonder in certain souls only.  

Dr Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, founder of the Global Penguin Society, conservationist and researcher is dedicated to protecting all the species of penguin around the world. Pablo says that penguins are important because they are excellent indicators of the health of the ocean.

Penguins can swim very long distances in the ocean to get food so they need large-scale conservation but at the same, time they need protection in the nest because they spend lots of months breeding their chicks. 

The key things is that when we protect penguins, we are protecting the oceans. The oceans are critical for human beings and for the planet so the Global Penguin Society helps ensure the health of the ocean to benefit not only wildlife but also people. 

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Part of the work that Pablo does involves monitoring the local penguin population by weighing and tagging the birds. The inspiration and passion that Pablo has for protecting these animals has its genesis in an early childhood experience where he found himself surrounded by thousands of penguins in a colony. At that moment, he found his purpose was.

In the 1980's, in Puntan Ninfas, 40 000 died per year due to the many threats they were facing including pollution and human activity such as fishing and uncontrolled tourism. These challenges forced the Global Penguin Society to work with local communities and develop eco-touristic activities. 

Silvina Garzonio, owner of the Hotel El Pedral, is one person who has embraced the need for an environmentally-conscious approach to business in the area. The hotel seems to be in the middle of nowhere but this is more than just real estate. It is part of an attempt to balance the need for jobs for the local population and the conservation of the penguins.

Travellers to this part of the world really understand and believe that sustainable tourism is crucial to sustaining the nature and the beauty of the area. Since the protection of the penguins began, Pablo says that the colony has grown from 60 to almost 1800 pairs. 

It just goes to show that there are ways to travel, make a difference and change lives.

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