Kayleigh’s Story

The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

Nearly a year ago to the day, I arrived in Gansbaai South Africa. For the next 5 weeks I was going to be helping out on the Great White Shark cage diving vessel, SlashFin, with Marine Dynamics and International Marine Volunteers. I didn’t know at the time that for the first time ever, the Great White Sharks would disappear for a prolonged period of time and that I would actually end up spending my time at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary.

APSS as it is known takes in sick/injured birds and abandoned chicks and helps rehabilitate them back into the wild. (African Penguins are endangered and experts do believe that if nothing is done, they will be extinct in the wild by 2030.) It’s also a really important place to me and helping out there is what started a new found love for penguins and birds, it also made me realise that working with birds is what I wanted to do with my life. A day at APSS would involve cleaning, cutting fish tails and fillets, laundry and feeding. When I returned back to England I continued to volunteer with birds at Birdworld in Farnham, yet really wanted to get more hands on experience back in South Africa… I left my job and returned. Yet this time I wanted to give back to the place that taught me so much, APSS.


I decided I was going to raise money for APSS. I let my work friends decide how I would go about doing this. They decided that I would get blown of the side of a mountain, yes paragliding – I can honestly say now that I will never do this again! The most terrifying part was when the guy told me that if I needed to run to gain air then I would have to run off the side of the mountain! The incline that you are on is enough to terrify anyone that has a fear of heights, no matter how small. All in the name of fundraising.

My target was £300 and as the days and months rolled by the total kept creeping up. I actually managed to triple my target and raise £940!!! Again I would like to thank every single person that donated, plus family and friends. Without their kindness it wouldn’t have been possible! I didn’t do anything really, it was down to everyone else. I was able to give back to the place that changed everything for me and I will be forever grateful.

This is me back in action in Kleinbaai, Gansbaai at a recent penguin release – for more information regarding penguin rehabilitation and conservation visit the Dyer Island Conservation Trust website.

Kayleigh Hawkins
International Marine Volunteer

 

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