12-year-old eco-champ Romario Valentine is rallying the troops for a festive fundraiser that hopes to play an important role in restoring Marion Island (AKA seabird island) to its haven status.
South Africa (01 December 2023) — Romario Valentine, a 12-year-old environmental enthusiast and 2022 BirdLife SA Owlet laureate from Umhlanga, has inspired eco-consciousness thanks to his unwavering and creative commitment to the earth. His upcoming festive fundraiser is one of many actions toward environmental restoration that reminds us no matter our age, we can all do our part to protect the planet.
The young ornithophile has not only secured the title of the youngest Ambassador for Ocean Sole but has also represented South Africa at a United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
Romario’s environmental journey began at the age of 6, and since then, he has actively participated in numerous conservation projects, beach clean-ups, and tree-planting initiatives. Renowned globally for his efforts, Romario’s passion led him to become an ambassador for Ocean Sole, a Kenyan company specialising in recycling flip-flops that wash ashore.
Having appeared on prestigious platforms such as 50/50, National Geographic Kids, and Global Citizen, Romario has raised over R76,000 for environmental causes since he was just 8 years old.
His diverse initiatives include over 250 beach cleans and the planting or sponsorship of over 455 trees in 31 countries worldwide.
In September 2022, Romario released his book, ‘Protect our Planet – Take Action with Romario’, aimed at inspiring the next generation of nature lovers. The book covers essential environmental topics, including recycling, reforestation, pollution solutions, and climate change.
As the festive season draws near, Romario has relaunched his campaign in aid of BirdLife South Africa’s Mouse-free Marion Project, dedicated to safeguarding the vital seabirds, including albatrosses and petrels, on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic location southeast of Cape Town in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Last year, Romario’s campaign successfully sponsored 20 hectares on Marion Island. This year, he is determined to persist in his conservation efforts by raising R20 000 to sponsor an additional 20 hectares.
In case you aren’t in the loop, BirdLife South Africa is currently on a mission to eliminate rodents that pose a significant threat to bird species on Marion Island—an essential part of the marine ecosystem.
Teaming up with other international groups through the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge, (IOCC), the task at hand is to reclaim the island as the seabird sanctuary it naturally was.
The albatross, wandering, sooty, grey-headed, and petrel populations are rapidly declining due to the invasive mice introduced by 19th-century sealers and whalers. These rodents are now preying on seabird chicks, hindering their journey to adulthood. The adult birds face additional challenges from the mice, coupled with the impacts of climate change and human activities. The severity of the infestation has left the adult birds defenceless against these predators.
Each R1,000 raised through this year’s campaign will contribute to sponsoring a hectare, ultimately contributing to the preservation of the 30,000 hectares that make up Marion Island.
Romario encourages everyone to be part of this environmental legacy, stating, “When we take care of Nature, we take care of ourselves.” The campaign page will remain open until the end of January 2023.