16 September 2015
Given the depth and breadth of the initiative, a multi-disciplinary partnership – including the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Kingsley Holgate Foundation, Wildlands, Project Rhino KZN, Wildlife ACT, African Conservation Trust, Peace Parks Foundation and the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing – was required. Each partner has brought its own strengths and experience, as well as a deep commitment, to stop the scourge of rhino poaching.
The ‘Rhino Walk’ will take place from 7 September – 2 October 2015. Learners, principals and educators will walk with conservation agencies, NGOs, traditional leadership, land claimant groups and local, provincial and national government, from school to school across the length of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park - which is over 220 km from Maphelane to Kosi Bay. The Walk will provide an opportunity for all these groups to show solidarity for the conservation of rhino and other iconic species within iSimangaliso. It is a challenge to young people here and afar to take up the cause – hopefully spreading to all corners of the earth through the power of social media.
Says Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park: “We have an established developmental partnership with these schools. The aim of this environmental awareness and rhino protection intervention is to nurture a generation of wildlife ambassadors and leaders who are committed to all threatened species, big and small – the ecosystem processes, biodiversity, and incredible beauty of the region where we live. We will only achieve long-term success in stopping rhino poaching if we have the support of conservation-minded local communities and, most importantly, the next generation."
Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, echoed the critical influence that the voice of the younger generation can have in affecting change: “As part of our Rhino Protection Programme, Peace Parks Foundation recently engaged youth from Vietnam in a demand reduction awareness programme. These youngsters returned to their home country with a fervour and determination to transform the behaviour of their communities towards conservation – reminding us again to never underestimate our youth. We are proud to be part of the iSimangaliso programme, which will surely ignite the same passion and resolve in the youth of South Africa.”
iSimangaliso’s conservation partner, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s CEO, Dr David Mabunda says: “We are excited to be part of this project as it will compliment Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's enforcement efforts with iSimangaliso and our nearby parks like Hluhluwe-iMfolozi on the ground by building a critical mass of people in the area who believe in conservation.”
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Source: Joint Media Release 2015/9/07: iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, South African Department of Environmental Affairs, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Wildlands, Kingsley Holgate Foundation, Project Rhino KZN, Wildlife ACT, African Conservation Trust, Peace Parks Foundation and the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing.
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