Projects in Peru

Creating and strengthening awareness for the conservation of the Humboldt penguin in Peru.

Pisco, Peru, Landau May 1st 2024. In September 2022, Acorema began the environmental education project, which will last until the end of August 2024. In May 2023, Señora Milagros Ormeño Benavidess wrote a report on the period September 2022 to May 2023 (see article “Consciousness spaces for ...” from May 31, 2023). It has now sent another report for the period from June 2023 to March 2024 entitled “Creating and strengthening spaces for the conservation of the Humboldt penguin on the central coast of Peru”:


„1. Introduction

The Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti (Meyen, 1834) is an oceanic bird endemic to the west coast of South America. Its range extends from Foca Island (5°12'S, 81°12'W) in northern Peru to Metalqui Island (42°12'S, 74°10'W) on the west coast of Chiloé Island, Chile (1).

Between 2010 and 2019, population numbers in Peru were stable, albeit fluctuating. The total population of moulting birds peaked in 2015 and then showed a declining trend from around 20,000 animals in 2010 to less than 10,000 in 2019 (McGill et al., unpublished data).

The decline is mainly due to bycatch, illegal fishing, competition with fisheries, predators and diseases, as well as the depletion of guano and other factors such as climate change.

One aspect of this species that is particularly noteworthy is its importance to the scientific community. This was demonstrated by the “Workshop on Population and Habitat Viability (PHVA) (2) for the Humboldt Penguin”, which took place in Peru in 2019 and brought together the most important researchers and managers of this penguin species. Among other things, the need to develop strategies to raise awareness among various target groups was discussed and, on this basis, a number of recommendations were formulated to address the problem that “the general public is insufficiently informed about the current conservation status and threats to the Humboldt penguin”. One goal to solve this problem is the development of educational materials and tools to support conservation programs for the Humboldt penguin that are aimed at the general public.

The authors noted that securing the future of the Humboldt penguin requires collaboration and cooperation between government research institutions, conservation biologists and NGOs. However, collaboration and cooperation are only possible if there is good communication between all parties about the state of knowledge and government policies affecting the penguins, and if all those involved in penguin conservation are included.

In this sense, this educational project contributes to strengthening the participation of the local population in the conservation of the Humboldt penguin and its habitat by creating new spaces for the participation of the local population in an area with the most important breeding colonies on the Peruvian coast and stabilizing this work through various local actors in the Ica region and the coastal communities south of Lima.


2. Activities

Between June 2023 and March 2024, several activities were developed to enable the implementation of the initiative “Creating and strengthening spaces for the conservation of the Humboldt penguin on the central coast of Peru”. These include,

2.1 Discussion sessions on the Humboldt penguin for primary and secondary school pupils

A total of 25 workshops on the biology, threats to and protection of the Humboldt penguin and its habitat were held at various schools, attended by around 1,800 pupils and around 40 primary and secondary school teachers.

After each learning unit, many pupils were encouraged to take action to help conserve the Humboldt Penguin and its habitat, e.g. in the form of picture stories, drawings, exhibitions and videos.

2.2 Realization of murals

Ideas, designs and contributions from the children of the Miguel Grau Seminario de Pucusana educational institution for the design of the mural "A message from the children of Pucusana for the conservation of our ocean" were collected and realized by a local artist. This mural, inspired by the children and created on the school grounds, will remain as a beautiful reminder of the efforts of the children and teachers.

Further murals are currently being created in the cities of Paracas, Pisco and Marcona.


2.3 Training of student teachers for initial teacher training at universities and institutes in Ica.

The Instituto de Formación Superior Juan XXIII de Ica, the most important teacher training institution in the region, was included in the project. This enabled the students' skills to be strengthened through workshops for pre-school education students. The workshops enabled them to plan initiatives to be implemented in the new academic year. 

In this way, they acquire knowledge that they can pass on to their students, not only during their internship, but also later when they work as teachers in pre-school education, in order to pass on knowledge about our endangered marine animals and their habitat continuously and sustainably over several generations.

The teacher booklets "Discover the ocean with our friend the Humboldt penguin" for pre-school education were also distributed as part of these training sessions, which teachers can use as teaching aids.


2.4 Initiative to create spaces for the preservation of the oceans
Acorema developed and participated in various actions and events promoted by different national and international institutions:

a. Participation in six different events promoted by different institutions and communities, including fairs and events with the community of San Andrés (Pisco) and the community of Tambo de Mora (Chincha).

b. "Expo Perú 2023"

The "Expo Peru 2023" was organized jointly with various government agencies to showcase, among other things, the country's riches that promote and support sustainable development in the south of the country through ecotourism and environmental protection. ACOREMA was invited to present some of the work and messages developed by the institution.

c. International webinar "Living oceans"

On March 9, 2024, we participated in the international webinar "Living Oceans: a journey from coast to home", an event organized by the international network Educa Verde Internacional. This event brought together researchers and educators from Latin America in a forum dedicated to sharing information, learning and finding strategies to protect the coastal marine environment. ACOREMA's educational activities were presented, including those carried out in recent years with the Humboldt penguin.

d. 11th International Penguin Congress

Thanks to the support of Sphenisco, we were able to participate in the 11th International Penguin Congress in Viña del Mar, Chile. This event brought together penguin researchers from all over the world and gave us the opportunity to present our initiative and establish contacts with various penguin conservation groups around the world. We were also able to expand our knowledge to develop new research programs and support other education and outreach programs.

As part of the coordination of this congress, we were invited to take part in a global event for the conservation of the African penguin (editor's note: this probably refers to the African penguin). In this initiative, various scientific communities and organizations from all over the world have joined forces to call on the public to conserve the African penguin, which, like the Humboldt penguin, is highly endangered. 

Together with teachers and students from I.E. José de la Torre Ugarte de Pisco, we took part in two events:

1. a short presentation on the conservation problems of these two species for which support is needed, and 

2. the organization of a march entitled "The Humboldt penguin helps the African penguin", during which messages from the children of Pisco were spread. During the march, posters and pictures of the two penguin species made by the children were displayed along the route, as well as songs and chants. This activity was shared worldwide through the organizers' social networks.


2.5 Initiative "Pisko, the Humboldt penguin visits your school".

In developing the awareness-raising activities, we were supported by the mascot "Pisko" the Humboldt penguin. This enabled us to reach young children between the ages of 3 and 5 and inform them in an age-appropriate way. We also reached around 500 pupils and 20 pre-school teachers. We have managed to organize the continuation of the activities for the current school year. We are taking into account that teachers who have taken part in workshops and received materials will develop strategies to continue education and awareness-raising processes. They will discuss this with us and develop initiatives that will be passed on.


2.6 Summer workshops "Discovering our ocean"

Further workshops were organized for children of fishermen and traders in the port of San Andrés. On this occasion, we coordinated with the district administration of San Andrés to extend the workshops to other areas. In addition to the workshop in urban facilities, a workshop was held in a rural area. A total of 55 children were reached in both workshops".

March 2024 

Milagros Ormeño Benavide 

translated by Claudia Fawer

(1) De la Puente, S., Bussalleu, A., Cardeña, M., ValdésVelásquez, A., Majluf, P. & Simeone, A. 2013. Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti). In: García, P. & Boersma, P.D. (Eds.). Penguins, natural history and conservation. University of Washington Press, Seattle, pp. 265-283.


(2) McGill, P., J. Reyes, A. Baker, R. Lacy, R. Paredes, J. Rodríguez, A. Tieber, R. Wallace, (Eds.) (2021). Pingüino de Humboldt (Spheniscus humboldti). Taller de Evaluación de Viabilidad de Población y Hábitat. Informe Final. UICN SSC Grupo de Especialistas en Planificación de la Conservación, Apple Valley, MN, USA





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