SA joins World Wildlife Day celebrations

Pretoria - Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is on Friday joining Environment Ministers from across the globe at a United Nations General Assembly high level discussion in celebration of World Wildlife Day 2017.

World Wildlife Day is being celebrated under the theme 'Listen to the Young Voices'.

Last year, during the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES held in Johannesburg (CITES COP17), the conference adopted the first CITES resolution on 'Youth Engagement', calling for greater engagement, mobilisation and empowerment of youth in conservation.

"This development marked a significant leap towards a new world of inclusivity and the amplification of youth voices. We therefore remain resolute that, though debate marred with practical beneficial activities, the youth of the world can shape their destiny," Minister Molewa said.

She said young people have a responsibility to act as change agents to ensure that plants and animals are conserved.

"The celebration of World Wildlife Day under the theme, 'Listen to the young voices', speaks equally to the present and future; not only the future of the youth, but the future of our wildlife.

"The choice of the theme hastens the need for inclusive approaches to safeguard the survival of wildlife species, thus ensuring the future of humanity," Minister Molewa said.

She said the participation of the youth and local communities in conservation in the fight against wildlife crime forms an integral part of South Africa's Integrated Strategic Management Approach to manage rhino and address rhino poaching.

Key to this approach are sustainability interventions that include compulsory interventions that focus on enforcement; rhino population management aimed at growing our populations; community development, demand management and interventions aimed at disrupting syndicates.

All of these are implemented in the context of regional and international cooperation.

The integrated approach, involving various government institutions working in unison with the private sector, local communities and civil society are bearing fruit, as evidenced by the latest comparative decline in rhino poached.

"We will continue with our collaborative implementation of curbing illegal wildlife trade and therefore events such as this ensure that the challenges relating to illegal wildlife trade are profiled at a global stage. This event further harnesses the momentum, thus ensuring the timely implementation of the various resolutions relating to wildlife management," Minister Molewa said.

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild animals and plants.

The UNGA resolution also designated the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance for wildlife.

Source: South African Government News Agency