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Greening And Environment

12-year-old Eco-Champion Romario Launches Festive Fundraiser to Save Marion Island’s Precious Seabirds

Romario Valentine, a 12-year-old environmental enthusiast and 2022 BirdLife SA Owlet laureate from Umhlanga, Durban, is making waves with his extraordinary dedication to protecting 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 specializing 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 on the crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy since the age of 8. 


His diverse initiatives include over 250 beach cleans and the planting or sponsorship of over 455 trees in 31 countries worldwide.


“At BackaBuddy, over the last four years, we’ve been inspired by Romario Valentine’s unwavering commitment to environmental conservation. His passion, coupled with the unwavering support from his generous donors, has created a powerful force for positive change. Together, they’ve not only raised funds but have become integral contributors to the broader preservation of our planet.  Romario proves that you are never too young to make a difference” – says Monique Weich, Donor coordinator at BackaBuddy


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.


Christmas for the Birds

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. 


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.


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 defenseless against these predators.


Last year, Romario’s Christmas 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. 


Each R1,000 raised through his BackaBuddy campaign will contribute to sponsoring a hectare, ultimately contributing to the preservation of the 30,000-hectare 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.


To support Romario’s Seabirds Christmas Gift campaign, visit BackaBuddy:

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