Words: Liesl Coetzer
Over 3,000 rhino have been slaughtered in the past 4 years, that equates to 1 every 8 hours in South Africa. Statistics that make for shocking reading. The youth of the world are a powerful force that want to see the end of this war on wildlife crime. That is why the first World Rhino Youth Summit has been organised so that 140 delegates from 20 countries, including USA, UK, Vietnam and New Zealand, can come together to discuss solutions to this issue and sign a declaration that is being sent to governments around the world saying: “This is enough, we are here to make a stand, let our voices be heard.”
Courtesy of: Liesl Coetzer
The 3 day programme which started today at iMfolozi Game Reserve includes intensive cultural sessions that will educate and transform the Rhino Warriors, (delegates), into Rhino Ambassadors so that they can return to their home countries and share the facts about poaching and its strain on our wildlife and the surrounding communities.
The programme has powerful and thought-provoking aspects such as a simulated hunt and poacher arrest exercise, 50 game rangers and expert conservationists as “Rhino Elders” sharing their knowledge and building a memorial to commemorate all our slain rhino. Seeing the species in its natural habitat is particularly important to the Vietnamese Rhino Warriors who need to enforce the connection between the illegal sale of products containing rhino horn and that of a living animal.
One of the overwhelming themes coming out of the World Youth Rhino Summit is that, especially in countries such as China and Vietnam, the end users intentions aren't always malicious but rather there is a lack of education, government support and media coverage from their end to inform the end user of the negative impact poaching has. Ignorance and status are the driving force of this war and can be fought.
"I really want to find a way to spread the word in my own country and keep this movement flowing beyond the Summit, finding new and creative ways on how I can help the cause." Bryar Rensham, New Zealand.
“It is time for us to pass on the baton onto the youth of today. They are the ones that can implement change and carry on the legacy that Dr Ian Player started, of saving the black and white rhino from extinction,” Kingsley Holgate