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Young South Africans on #WorldAnimalDay – ‘We are fighting for our legacy’

This is an excerpt from an article written by Louzel Lombard Steyn and published online by The South African on 12 October, 2020.

In line with the mission of World Animal Day, young South Africans have stepped up to raise welfare standards and conserve our collective wildlife heritage, starting in South Africa.

A new generation of South African conservationists is on the rise and on World Animal Day, young leaders called for a resolute approach in saving South Africa’s wildlife heritage

Citing issues such as the ongoing trade in captive lion parts, rhino poaching, marine protection as well as the South African government’s current objective to escalate the use of wild animals as commercial trade goods, the new generation of wildlife warriors say this is not the legacy they want to leave behind.

“We know we are fighting for our legacy,” says Phelisa Matyolo who was one of five South African youth rhino ambassadors who visited Vietnam in 2015 to appeal to its people to urgently bring an end to rhino poaching.

At the time, her Asian peers did not realise that the rhinos were being killed to obtain the horn.

“Our visit to Vietnam made a big impact,” she says. “It was young people, speaking to other youngsters. The children of the Asian tribes never understood the importance of rhino on our continent. Now, the youth of Vietnam is spreading the word among their own people to stop killing wildlife.”

It’s no coincidence that the year that followed showed the first downward trend in poaching in South Africa.

The carnage continues, however. Recent amendments to SA’s Animal Improvement Act and Meat Safety Act as well as the appointment of a seemingly one-sided high-level panel reviewing SA’s policies and legislation of our most iconic species, appear to be driving the wholesale commodification of our wildlife. 

South Africa currently has over 10,000 big cats in captivity for use in tourism activities, canned hunting and slaughter for their bones.

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