Above picture:  Romario Valentine poses proudly with his 55-ha Certificate of Appreciation

Back in late November 2022, then eleven-year-old Romario Valentine, with the help of his mother, Delsha Moodley, started an online crowd-funding campaign on BackaBuddy to raise R 10 000 over the holiday season to support the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project.  His appeal was so successful that by the end of the first week of January 2023 he had raised more than double his original target, reaching the sum of R 21 000.  With Romario’s agreement this sum was registered on the MFM Project website as 21 hectares.

Watch a video of Romario explaining his initiative here

A year later, and now aged 12, Romario restarted his appeal under the title “Romario’s New Year Appeal for a Mouse-Free Marion Island”, with the aim of raising a further R 20 000 to support the MFM Project and to run for the months of December 2023 and January 2024 (click here).  By the end of December, with a month still to go, it became obvious that once more Romario was going to exceed the combined total of R 40 000, so his BackaBuddy page was amended to show the new fundraising target of R 50 000.  The excellent news is by the end of January he had raised not only this new sum, but R 55 175!  Romario has now a new Certificate of Appreciation to show that over his two appeals he has sponsored a grand total of 55 ha of Marion Island to help rid it of its albatross-killing mice.

Tarryn Havemann, the MFM Project’s Development Officer, writes “we are most grateful for and proud of Romario’s support of the Mouse-Free Marion Project – it is greatly appreciated.  He leads by example, and we hope he will continue to inspire others, young and old, to advocate for what is arguably the world’s most important bird conservation project”.

Romario Valentine replies that “when we take care of nature, we take care of ourselves”.  His appeal will remain open for any further donations.  Grateful thanks also go to the many people, many of them anonymous, who contributed to Romario’s successful appeal.

John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 08 February 2024


At risk to mice: a Grey-headed Albatross sits up on Marion Island; photograph by Sean Evans, poster design by Michelle Risi

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org.