Celebrate with us. There is a reason the March for the Penguins, held annually at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, occurs on the 21st December. This date just happens to be the birthday of Dyer Island Conservation Trust founder, Wilfred Chivell. In the new virtual world you can take part in the March for the Penguins on any day between 21 December & 5 January.
Wilfred Chivell is a dedicated marine conservationist and founded the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in 2006 when his passion for the endangered African penguin and its plight led to him creating the ‘Faces of Need’ housing project for this flightless bird. This project has grown much since then and penguin homes can be seen on the protected Dyer Island and other colonies. Wilfred initiated two penguin conferences in 2008 and 2009 and pushed for the penguin to be listed as endangered. A dream of his finally came true in 2015 when he opened the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a state of the art rehabilitation facility. Wilfred has travelled widely to see penguins, seeking knowledge on the flightless birds, and inspiration to turn around the possible extinction of South Africa’s endemic African penguin. Wilfred has only two species left on his bucket list – the King penguin and the Adelie penguin.
Wilfred has a diverse background from working as a President’s guard; diving for treasure, literally, as he discovered the biggest coin collection of a wreck called the Nicobar; to owning his own construction company in the 90s when sadly the recession hit, and he had to close doors. However, not so sadly, he then took his passion for the sea and its marine life and made a successful living from it while contributing to the conservation of an area he loves. Starting off with a rubber dinghy in 2000 he started a whale watching company called Dyer Island Cruises. He took his own calls and handled most aspects of the business himself and slowly started building a new vision. He then purchased a shark cage diving company in 2005 called Marine Dynamics and has changed much in an industry that could be used purely for financial gain. That has now grown into a highly successful award winning eco-tourism business due to the research, conservation and education work undertaken in partnership with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Both businesses are Fair Trade Tourism certified since 2008 and have been used as case studies for responsible tourism. The companies have won numerous awards as has Wilfred in his own right. Wilfred was awarded the Eagle award by Birdlife – this is a lifetime achievement award. Wilfred has changed the way the shark cage diving industry is viewed and has structured a business model that not only creates employment but also benefits the environment and is aimed at protecting our marine heritage. Wilfred’s companies support the Trust operationally and financially. Every day funds are raised from clients visiting the companies and this also supports the work of the Trust. He employs marine biologists and has supported three in completing their master’s degrees and continues to assist PhD studies.
Wilfred is also passionate about whales, is part of the SA Whale Disentanglement network and has dedicated boats and a cradle for rescues. Wilfred cares about the promotion of the area as a tourist destination and supports tourism efforts. He has been involved in the protection and accessibility of the Klipgat Caves, commemorates the Birkenhead Memorial every year through a special trip on the whale and shark boats. The coins Wilfred discovered on the wreck of the Nicobar are held at the Cultural History Museum in Cape Town and the Royal Coin Cabinet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Wilfred’s whole ethos is based on conservation and protection of the environment with various measures in place across the board. He encourages guests and tour operators to consider that “Your Choice Makes a Difference.”
When asked what inspires him, Wilfred answered: Life!
His favourite quote: “Conservation without money is just conversation” – Anton Rupert.
Please celebrate with us this year and make it the biggest VIRTUAL and GLOBAL March for Penguins.
Your support will make a huge difference to our rehabilitation efforts.
For all the info about the March for the Penguins & the RaceOne App, click here.