Young environmental activist pledges 9th birthday to support bird sanctuary

Reading Time: 4 minutes

At only 9 years old, Romario Valentine from Umhlanga, Durban, has dreams of one day becoming a scientist to better understand and protect our natural environment.

Proving that you’re never too young to stand up for what you believe in, Romario has been an active ocean warrior for the past 2 years, particpating in over 126 beach cleanups and raising awareness around the dangers of pollution.

Romario Valentine

Through his frequent visits to the Umgeni River Bird Park, in Durban North, a 3.5 hectare reserve which is home to over 800 birds from 200 species, Romario developed a passion for birds and protecting endangered species. 

As a keen artist, Romario is often seen conceptualizing mathematical art drawings of his favourite featherly friends such as the Hoopoe, Golden Pheasant, Reeves Pheasant, Bee Eater and African Grey Hornbill.

“I enjoy going to Umgeni River Bird Park because I love to see the amazing birds, the Bird Show and feeding them. There is also a beautiful waterfall.” – says Romario

Romario Valentine

Crowdfunding on Backabuddy

Upon learning that the Umgeni River Bird Park, was under strain due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Romario nobly asked his mum, Delsha Moodley, if she could help him set up a fundraiser to support the reserve, as they are temporarily closed and unable to fundraise during this uncertain time.

In lieu of gifts for his 9th birthday, Romario, set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy to raise funds to support the Umgeni River Bird Park’s “Inspire to Conserve” program to protect endangered birds.

With support from the public, Romario superseded his fundraising target of R15 000, raising over R30 000 to support his feathery friends on BackaBuddy with contributions from almost 100 donors

“I couldn’t go to the bird park for my birthday this year because of the lockdown. I asked my mother to help me raise money for the conservation program instead of getting birthday presents. I do not want them to become extinct.” – Romario

Romario’s parents, Delsha Moodley and Clive Valentine couldn’t be prouder of their son for taking initiative to protect the Umgeni reserve for future generations.

“We are honoured to have a benevolent, visionary son like Romario who loves nature and the environment at such a young age. He is a creative, sporty and vibrant child and we will continue to support him in all his endeavours.” says Delsha Moodley

Romario with his parents, Delsha Moodley and Clive Valentine.

With his campaign, Romario hopes to encourage other youngsters like him to get involved and save our planet.

“It is important to preserve ocean life and birds so they don’t become extinct. Only we can look after them and we need oxygen from trees to live. It is important for children to get involved with conservation to learn how to look after nature for our future.” – says Romario

Romario’s campaign is still open to donations, click here to donate:

Birthday Celebrations

For his hard work in supporting the Umgeni River Bird Park, Romario was allowed to celebrate his birthday at the sanctuary and was awarded a certificate of excellence!

Romario has also made history as the youngest Ocean Sole ambassador, highlighting the damage caused by pollutants and their effect on marine and sea bird life.

He’s also since appeared on 50/50, and has been featured in National Geographic, SA Art Magazine and appeared in an article on Global Citizen.

Keep up with Romario on Twitter here

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