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SA hosts first world rhino youth summit

The first summit will host 140 delegates from 20 countries in KwaZulu-Natal.

FILE: More than 3,000 rhino have been slaughtered in the past four years in South Africa, equating to 1 every 8 hours. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The first World Rhino Youth Summit is set to host 140 delegates from 20 countries, including the US, the UK, Vietnam and New Zealand, to discuss solutions to the rhino poaching crisis in Africa.

More than 3,000 rhino have been slaughtered in the past four years in South Africa, equating to one every eight hours.

The three-day programme, which started on Monday at iMfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, includes intensive cultural sessions involving 50 game rangers educating delegates who will then share facts at grassroots level to the youth in final demand countries about poaching and its strain on the country's wildlife.

Simulated hunt and poacher arrest exercises will feature prominently in the programme as well as 50 game rangers and expert conservationists sharing knowledge.

International representatives will be expected to sign a declaration that will be sent to governments around the world.

Organisers say that seeing the species in its natural habitat is particularly important to the Vietnamese who need to see 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 of poaching."

Speakers at the summit include Kingsley Holgate, conservationist and founder of Operation Rhino Dr Ian Player, wildlife veterinarian Dr William Fowlds and National Geographic conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu.