In September 2014, the world heard the voices of the youth speaking out against rhino poaching and the decimation of other endangered species at the inaugural!
WORLD YOUTH RHINO SUMMIT
21-23 September 2014 (incorporating World Rhino Day)
Centenary Centre, iMfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Over 3000 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.”
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.
6 Vietnamese students arrived at Durban airport, South Africa on 19th September to join the first ever World Youth Rhino Summit in iMfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal. The high demand for rhino horns in Vietnam has made it harder in the fight against poachers.
"I feel ashamed because I haven't done anything to the environment to the rhinos," said Trinh Bui Thi Kieu, a Vietnamese student.
"One of my relatives uses rhino horn to cure cancer. I haven't talked to her yet but after this trip I will try to convince her rhino horns have no medical value".
The 17-year-old admits that the exorbitant cost of rhino horn in her home country pales in comparison to the price she'll pay for standing up against its use.
Trinh is concerned about how she'll be received by loved ones in Vietnam after taking up arms in the war against poaching.
"Vietnamese people, they don't have any awareness of the environment. They have no idea whats happening in South Africa. They don't even know the rhino is becoming extinct."
The World Youth Rhino Summit ended on Tuesday, 23rd September 2014.
The delegates are being selected based on their future leadership potential in business, government and society. They are being drawn from the Rhino Art – Let the Children’s Voices be Heard campaign. The Rhino Art – Let the Children’s Voices be Heard campaign is led by modern-day African explorer Kingsley Holgate in partnership with Project Rhino KZN. It has already reached over 125,000 young people throughout southern and central Africa with a rhino conservation message that encourages them to voice their thoughts about rhino poaching. The results are astonishing; not only is it very clear that young people in both urban and rural communities are fully aware of the rhino poaching crisis and feel deeply about it, but they are also aware of the long term impact it will have on their African heritage and the global world they stand to inherit. Their graphic pictures show cognizance of widespread corruption and criminal forces at work and their heartfelt pleas for rhino poaching to stop make hardened rangers weep!
The Rhino Art campaign was part of the launch of the President Joaquim Chissano Wildlife Crime Initiative in Maputo, which aims to implement tougher wildlife crime laws in Mozambique. It has now reached Vietnam in partnership with WildAct, Saving Rhinos (UK), the Freeland Foundation