Another feather in his cap! 11-year-old Durban author raises funds to save seabirds

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Romario Valentine with an art piece he made depicting a seabird.
Romario Valentine with an art piece he made depicting a seabird.
Delsha Moodley
  • A Durban tween who authored a book on conservation is raising funds for seabirds.
  • Romario Valentine, an Ocean Sole ambassador who has worked with the UN, says seabirds are pivotal for the environment.
  • The youngster started a backabuddy campaign that has nearly raised the R10 000 he plans to donate for the seabird's well-being this Christmas.

A Durban tween, who has authored a book on conservation, has raised nearly R10 000 to fund the well-being of seabirds. 

Romario Valentine, who was Ocean Sole's youngest ambassador and worked with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to help fight land degradation in Africa's Sahel and Sahara region, is now raising funds to raise awareness and protect seabirds.

Earlier this year, through Penguin Publishing, the youngster published his book, Protect our Planet, to guide young nature lovers through key environmental topics – from recycling and reforestation to pollution solutions and climate change.

His latest venture sees the 11-year-old conservationist aim to fund the Mouse Free Marion project, which aims to conserve seabirds on Marion Island, off the coast of South Africa.

Due to a warmer and drier climate over the last 30 years, there has been an increase in mice that feed on the birds. The birds have no defence against the mice, whose attacks have grown exponentially in recent years.

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Romario's proud mother Delsha Moodley explained how the youngster decided to embark on his latest project.

"Romario's favourite seabird is the African penguin. He paints endangered birds to raise awareness. This time he chose the critically endangered Tristan albatross. It is found on Gough Island. When Romario researched the bird, he discovered they were being attacked by mice.

"As he is a BirdLife owlet award winner, it led him to read about a similar issue on the BirdLife South Africa website where he learned of the same plight happening to important seabirds on a South African island called Marion.

She said: 

He decided to raise awareness and at the same time support the Mouse Free Marion project headed by BirdLife South Africa.

Seabirds' guano "droppings" contain nutrients that help coral reefs grow, Moodley added. 

"The monies raised will go towards the Mouse Free Marion project, where they will drop bait for the mice which will kill the mice. It is a huge undertaking and they will need as much financial support as they can get," she said. 

Speaking on conservation and the project, young Romario said:

I believe you are never too young to help nature and help improve the lives of others. My advice is to set small goals. Try your best to live more sustainably. Connect more with nature and find a spot to clean often, plant trees, recycle, reuse, and only buy the things that you need because when we take care of nature. We take care of ourselves.

Romario said that every young person and citizen, in general, could do their part for conservation.

"I'd say start small. Do research, read books, and online. Attend environmental events run by organisations that are trying their best to help biodiversity. This way, understand them and vice versa."

Romario Valentine has raised nearly R10 000 for th
Romario Valentine has raised nearly R10 000 for the conservation of seabirds.

When asked how he balances his conservation work with school, Moodley said that Romario's time management was key.

"As a mother, I manage his time efficiently with plenty enough time for rest and play. I balance out his schedule for him to maintain a balance between school, sports, and his environmental activism."

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She added: "Romario believes it is his mission to protect the planet and leave a legacy for future generations to come. 

"As a family, we are honoured to have a kind-hearted spirit child-like Romario. We appreciate nature and are glad we can help him on his journey to fulfil his passion not only for himself but for the rest of the natural world."

If you would like to contribute to Romario's backabuddy campaign click here for more.

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