By the teen leaders of the Wildlife Conservation Hub, Sara Bigley, Ankitha Venguswamy, and Maria Alonso Novo

On December 27th, 2020 the Co Lab’s Wildlife Conservation Hub came together with changemakers around the world to discuss the critical issue of wildlife conservation and preservation of biodiversity. The two speakers that were featured were Ms. Tendai Gumbo Wilkinson, an educator and artist working within the nonprofit organization Rhinosaverz as the project facilitator, to inspire and connect artists of all ages to use art to connect and heal, and Mr. Charles Summerfield, the founder of Rhinosaverz, musician, and conservationist. Through our info session, we were able to discuss topics like preservation of resources, being environmentally conscious in our decisions as a consumer, and the halting of single-use plastics. Charles was able to describe the actual situation on the ground in South Africa, with his experience working with rangers in the region, about the extent of the poaching crisis causing many species of animals that are extremely endangered to be on the brink of extinction. Especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, poachers are even less restricted in their access to wildlife because of the lack of regulation from governmental organizations. Tendai emphasized the need for young people to get involved in these crises, and make a difference in whatever way they can, whether it be through fundraising for conservancies and on the ground efforts, creating art, or raising awareness, we all have a part to do in our communities. 

Through our info session, our hub was also able to connect with people from many different countries, including Jazmin Salazar from Mexico, who has created the project Wocean and “The Earth Talk” podcast to showcase stories of people working in the field of wildlife conservation and marine life conservation. She said “Only by knowing, we can create the change we want to see,” and advocates for more teen involvement in long-term projects dedicated to saving wildlife. Other organizations that Charles has worked with in the past have included the Save the African Rhinos Foundation that has done work in the national parks, and aided rangers in South Africa by giving them resources and food supplies. He has worked with the biggest rhino orphanage in South Africa, Care for Wild, which is a sanctuary for rhinos to develop and be released into the wild under protection. The Tikki Hywood organization was another foundation Charles has worked with that has advocated for the protection of the pangolin, a highly endangered species. Above all, Charles and Tendai underscore the importance of giving back to the communities we are all in, our social circles, and our peers. “If everyone gives themselves a little piece of action… that is the one thing that I would really really inspire anyone to do.”

If you are interested in watching our full info session, please click here.

Image by Nel Botha from Pixabay