South Africa | FEEL GOOD | Durban boy working with UN uses 10th birthday to raise funds for bird sanctuary

A Durban boy who works with the UN and used his ninth birthday to raise funds for endangered birds in Umgeni River Bird Park, is at it again for his 10th birthday - this time he wants to help a Cape Town facility and African Grey birds.

Romario Valentine, 10, made headlines last year, when, despite growing fears of Covid-19, committed to helping the bird park for his birthday, on 26 July.

During that period, the selfless youngster, who was nine at the time, exceeded his own R15 000 goal to help fund the Umgeni River Bird Park after raising more than R20 000.

He was invited to the popular bird park after he raised awareness for the financially strained sanctuary which had been hard hit since the Covid-19 lockdown began in late March last year.

Romario Valentine during one of his beach clean up

Romario Valentine during one of his beach clean ups.

Supplied Delsha Moodley

Since then, his passion for conservation has exponentially grown after he became Ocean Sole's youngest ambassador and cleaned local beaches over 160 times.

Romario is currently working with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to help combat land degradation in the Sahel and Sahara region in Africa.

Helping birds in Cape Town

Now, he's set his sights on Birds of Eden in Cape Town that houses 3 500 birds.

Young Romario is helping support the completion of the 30m x 30m aviary for abandoned African Grey Parrots.

"These intelligent birds are critically endangered, almost extinct in the wild due to illegal trade where they are subjected to extremely appalling treatment and abuse," he said.

Romario Valentine getting creative during one of h

Romario Valentine getting creative during one of his beach clean-ups in Durban.

Supplied Delsha Moodley

He added that after researching the birds, he knew he had to act to save them.

"I saw an article about the African Grey Parrot and did research. I discovered that they are critically endangered in the wild. I decided I wanted to help Birds of Eden in Cape Town to build an aviary for abandoned African Greys and raise awareness."

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Romario said he felt it was vital to step up and conserve nature.

"I am passionate about nature and believe it is my mission to protect the environment and biodiversity. Trees give us oxygen, food and shelter which are important for our survival.

"You are never too young to help nature. I would like to encourage children to plant trees, to not litter, recycle and reuse."  

He said that his planting tree initiative was vital, especially during Covid-19.

"Covid-19 has shown me how important oxygen is. I have planted 26 trees on four continents and want to leave a legacy for other children and save wildlife."

Ably supported by his mother Delsha Moodley, the young man had undertaken several environmental initiatives that has seen him achieve much since his humble mission to save some of Durban's endangered birds.

Romario Valentine in the middle of tree planting

Romario Valentine in the middle of tree planting.

Supplied Delsha Moodley

"As parents, we are honoured to have a humble, visionary son. Romario has been passionate about the environment and wildlife for several years. We will continue to support him the best way we can on his journey."

She said they believed he was a "champion of the earth".

"Romario has shown leadership qualities from a young age. He is always coming up with new ideas on how the environment and wildlife can be protected for future generations. He has accomplished a lot for a nine-year-old."

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His many achievements include commencing a self-funded tree planting campaign in August 2020. To date, he has sponsored 26 trees on four continents.

He will also feature in Leisa Stewart-Sharpe and Lydia Hall's book "What a Wonderful World" as a young environmentalist.

His mum said his work with the UN had been some of the proudest moments for her as a parent.

"For Romario to be selected to team up with a huge organisation as the United Nations, is evidence he will continue to blossom in all his future eco adventures. Furthermore, with his drive and dedication to nature, I am hopeful that the future will be bright and clean."

If you would like to help Romario on his latest mission, donate through here.

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