Durban boy, 11, couldn't find a 'child-friendly' book on conservation. So he wrote his own

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Romario Valentine with his recently published book.
Romario Valentine with his recently published book.
Delsha Moodley
  • A Durban youngster has become a published author after Penguin books put out his book on conservation and sustainable energy.
  • Romario Valentine, who has previously worked with the United Nations to further his environmental awareness cause says his passion to protect the planet continues to burn strong.
  • The 11-year-old conservationist also won the Birdlife South Africa Owlett award recognising his efforts to promote the awareness of birds and birding.

An 11-year-old Durban boy has published a book to help children like himself understand the importance of protecting the planet.

Romario Valentine, who was Ocean Sole's youngest ambassador and worked with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to help combat land degradation in the Sahel and Sahara region in Africa, is now a published author.

In his book Protect our Planet, Romario enthusiastically guides young nature lovers through key environmental topics – from recycling and reforestation to pollution solutions and climate change.

He said, "I decided to put together my own academic book to help children become earth guardians. I couldn't find a child-friendly book that has information to guide kids and help them understand the importance of protecting our planet."

Young Romario touched on important aspects of sustainability and sustainable energy. He said the climate in South Africa was changing with drought, raging wildfires, torrential rains and floods "which cause an imbalance to biodiversity and threaten food security".

"It is important to invest in renewable energy such as solar. It doesn't emit greenhouse gases, which pollute the air and cause the earth's temperature to rise. I also believe if there is investment in the youth to educate them in science and technology it can create a green economy, jobs and entrepreneurs for a better sustainable future."

The most challenging part of writing his book was putting ideas to paper.

"I had to make time to do research, answer numerous questions and balance schoolwork, sports and exams. I now understand the mammoth task of creating a book."

Despite the challenges in penning his book, Romario said the creative aspect was his favourite moment.

"I had an amazing project manager who was artistic like me. She knew how to bring my visions to life. I was fortunate to have a great team, along with my parents. This project taught me the importance of teamwork and having positive people who uplift you."

Outside of writing his book, Romario, who began his conservation journey by raising money for the Umgeni Bird Park in Durban, received an award from Bird Life SA at the 2022 Bird Life South Africa Owl Award ceremony.

The win comes after his many efforts over a space of three years to promote birds and birding.

His mum Delsha said that while it was challenging at times to juggle Romario's school, his sports and environmental passions, time management was key.

"I practise good time management and make sure he has enough playtime and rest. Romario has always been passionate about nature from a young age. He would play with creepy-crawlies outside, hug trees and mimic bird sounds.

"When he was 3 years old he'd draw bugs and flowers. I only began to nurture his artistic talents when he was 5. At the age of 6, he embarked on a mission to save the ocean. Everything began to unravel and blossom from there."

She said if parents notice their child was passionate about something unique, they should nurture it.

"Try to help them nurture their gifts, set achievable goals and help them elevate further. Continuously praise and motivate them when they try their best in anything, no matter the result."

In South Africa, Romario's book can be bought from:

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