Saving Africa’s Wildlife: Do the Young Care? Are They Aware?

Rhino, elephants, lion and other wildlife is being poached and hunted at alarming rates as the illegal trade becomes more lucrative.

Does the younger generation in South Africa and around the world care if we lose our planet’s iconic species?

We didn’t take a poll or conduct a study, however, a goodly number of those that contact us here at NIKELA are the young. They want to know how they can help stop the poaching because they can’t wrap their brain (or better yet heart) around people who can be so brutal to other living creatures.

In general humans are born with an innate sense of right and wrong. Sure there are those that seem to be born psychopaths (I know, I used to work with kids and teens in serious trouble.)

What happens somewhere between the cradle and adulthood that allows hearts to grow cold, respect for life to flee, narcissism to reign and the lust for money to take control?

How do people become poachers, illegal traders, and crime syndicate bosses? I don’t have the answers. I do know is that what kids and young people observe and experience greatly impacts what they value and the choices they make.

Lettie (not her real name) spends time in Mozambique every year. She tells us that poachers are not secretive there, on the contrary they strut around victoriously, showing off their riches gained from poaching. It’s not a big deal, everyone knows where the money comes from. Lettie says young people are easily lured into the world of wildlife trafficking with the promise of easy money.

Now remember, Mozambique is a poor nation so the temptation is tremendous. We’re not talking making an extra few dollars, we’re talking making as much with one kill as some make in a lifetime.

Lettie like Kirsten (who wrote the story, “Poacher Attack: Through the Eyes of a Rhino Calf”) grew up fond of wildlife, was raised with a sensitivity for living beings and has a desire to do something to make the poachers stop.

When asked about how her friends in Africa feel about saving wildlife she said that young people are bombarded with so much information, but nothing much about what’s happening to the continents wildlife. Also, those that are, don’t know what they can do about it.

Lettie says being AWARE is key. She strongly feels that young people like her need two things:

ONE: Be made aware of what’s really happening right there in their area to the animals and birds

TWO: Be given options to help save their wildlife

In her book “Join the Club” Pulitzer Prize winning author Tina Rosenberg discusses what she calls the ‘social cure’, in a nutshell, how good outcomes can be brought about via peer pressure.

People like Shannon, owner of the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary (photo above), helps children and adults dispel myths about owls, vultures, falcons and other raptors that are being hunted and killed for their feathers, brains and other body parts.

We can’t all be like Shannon and Tina, however, we can commit to making the young more aware of what’s happening, via social media, this and other blogs, in person, via eBooks and eReports and by creating and developing media campaigns that will appeal to them.

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