eThekwini Community Foundation is adding its voice to the global battle cry to preserve South Africa’s natural heritage and to this end has formally joined Project Rhino KZN, and has secured a second community craft commission rhino which will be sponsored by the U.S. Consulate in Durban and The Wildlands Conservation Trust.
The ECF is a proactive, not-for-profit public benefit organisation, strategically aligned to the eThekwini Municipality.
“The preservation of much of our natural heritage is in crisis – personified by the ongoing rhino poaching tragedy,” says ECF director Kathryn Kure. “The rhino has become iconic and represents one diminishing species among many. As a Trust whose broad mission is interfacing people – projects – planet, we are aware of the need for a healthy symbiotic relationship between the country’s craft community and our natural heritage. For the crafters to continue to work, there must be systems in place for the sustainability and careful monitoring of our flora and fauna. Traditional crafters typically harvest elements of natural heritage, for example wood, quills, grasses, illala palms and reeds. The reports of international syndicates who consider our resources to be fair game to be plundered, is alarming.”
“A key element in this fragile house-of-cards is the preservation of the rhino. The Foundation is doing everything in its power to support the rhino campaign. One of our great success stories this year was the commissioning and decorating of Yenza a nearly life-size resin rhino, by a collective of crafters. Yenza has been much in demand, and has played an instrumental role in the conversation to create awareness around rhino poaching.
“We are delighted that a second rhino has been commissioned to be decorated. Our new rhino will be sponsored jointly by the U.S. Consulate in Durban and The Wildlands Conservation Trust.” said Kure.
“The United States is working with the international community to combat the illegal trade in wildlife and promote conservation through a four pillar strategy, which includes diplomatic outreach, public diplomacy, training, and partnerships. The United States’ efforts with foreign governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector seek to reduce demand and strengthen wildlife and marine conservation, as well as related enforcement and institutional capabilities,” said U.S. Consul General in Durban, Taylor Ruggles.
The U.S. is adding their resources in various ways to the rhino campaign. Secretary Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying: “Wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before. I think many of us are here because protecting wildlife is a matter of protecting our planet’s natural beauty. We see it’s a stewardship responsibility for us and this generation and future generations to come. But it is also a national security issue, a public health issue, and an economic security issue that is critical to each and every country represented here. We all, unfortunately, contribute to the continued demand for illegal animal goods. Wildlife might be targeted and killed across Asia and Africa, but their furs, tusks, bones, and horns are sold all over the world. Smuggled goods from poached animals find their way to Europe, Australia, China, and the United States. I regret to say the United States is the second-largest destination market for illegally trafficked wildlife in the world. And that is something we are going to address.”
“We are supporting the initiatives of Secretary Hillary Clinton and others who are vocal in their support of the campaign. Secretary Clinton is deploying crime intelligence operatives and is rolling out a major consumer activism and awareness campaign against trafficked wildlife products,” says Kure.
“One of the ways we can support the campaign is to undertake a ‘Hangout on Air’ to talk about, among other things, the need for consumer activism regarding using trafficked wildlife products. ‘Hangouts’ are the free video chat facility of Google Plus, which is Google’s social media platform.
“The U.S. Consulate in Durban together with key South African stakeholders such as Francois du Toit, CEO of African Conservation Trust, Andrew Venter, CEO of Wildlands Conservation Trust, and Sheelagh Antrobus from Project Rhino KZN – will now also have this platform as an opportunity to speak about the issue,” explains Kure.
ECF has been accepted as an associate member of Project Rhino KZN an association of like-minded organisations allowing collective co-ordination of rhino conservation interventions. The Foundation also partners with and supports the proactive Wildlands Conservation Trust.
“At a Provincial level, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has taken a number of pro-active steps to stop this onslaught on our rhino, including our active involvement in Project Rhino KZN, which is a regional collaborative effort to combat wildlife crime in KZN. The eThekwini Community Foundation (ECF) is a fellow member of this collaboration,” explained Dr Bandile Mkhize: CEO Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.