Spotlight on poaching during World Rhino Day

2014-09-23 00:00

AS World Rhino Day dawned yesterday, delegates on the second day of the World Youth Rhino Summit awoke to African drums resounding over the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.

Later, they sat wide-eyed as world-renowned elephant activist Paula Kahumbu from Kenya shared her wisdom and experiences with them. With tragic visuals of slaughtered elephants, Kahumbu showed that poaching is not only a rhino issue.

“Over 33 000 elephants are killed in Africa every year. The reason we’re failing is because we are still doing what we always did; we need a new kind of leadership,” she said.

The delegates also got the opportunity to meet some of the rhinos they fight for. In a very secret, very enclosed area of the reserve, groups of delegates got to meet their favourite animal face-to-face.

Hung Thauh Pham, a 17-year-old pupil from Vietnam, said he “has never been so close to a rhino before”.

“South Africa and the summit has lived up to every expectation. I have learnt so much. The images of the poaching I saw left me speechless and I despise poachers for their inhumanity. I believe that if we can change peoples’ thoughts and impressions, we can solve the problem,” he said.

Lena Schweizer, a 16-year old pupil from Switzerland, said social media can be a driving force behind creating international awareness on the subject.

Chris Galliers, chairperson of the Game Rangers Association of Africa, said there have been countless fatalities of rangers too.

“This is the 9/11 of conservation. We need more effective training for rangers and their managers as well as increased support from the legislature and the government,” Galliers said.

As the third and last day of the summit starts today, delegates will present their ideas and solutions to the boards of experts at the event. They will also hand over the first ever World Youth Wildlife Declaration to government and conservation leaders.

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