South African sisters ride for rhinos

first_img10 July 2015Two sisters from Cape Town, Vanessa and Victoria Wiesenmaier, are cycling 6 000km from China to Singapore to save rhinos. They set off in April, and yesterday were speeding along the Mekong.They have called their campaign Buy No Rhino, taken from the Wildaid slogan: “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”“We will be travelling through Vietnam, China and Thailand, the main consumer markets driving the demand for rhino horn,” say the sisters. “Especially in these countries we want to reach the people! Even if we cannot change a whole culture, we will sow a seed of change.”Only with demand reduction will the rhino have a chance of survival, say Vanessa (30) and Victoria (35).Extinction threatThe two African rhino species, the black rhino and the white rhino, are threatened by poaching. If the development of the past years continues it is expected that the rhino will become extinct in the near future. The war against rhino poaching will be won in Asia, not in Africa, they say of their decision to take the fight to the market.The poaching of rhinos has reached a crisis point, they say. Designed to raise awareness of the plight of the rhino, the Buy No Rhino Bike Tour, is taking the sisters through China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and, finally, Singapore. Along the way, they are urging consumers to stop buying rhino horn.Vietnam, China and Thailand are the main consumer markets for rhino horn. For their campaign, the Wiesenmaiers are working with Project Rhino KZN, partners of the Kingsley Holgate Foundation, to educate youth in hopes of curbing the demand for rhino horn.In Vietnam, the sisters teamed-up with Operation Game Change, a joint alliance between the governments of the United States and Vietnam aimed at ending wildlife crime, especially rhino horn.Save our rhinosThey give presentations at various stages along the way, promoting discussion on rhino poaching, rhino horn trafficking and how to stop the global urgent issue. They are also rolling out a Rhino Art project at schools and collecting signatures for the World Youth Wildlife Declaration, which will be presented to the Cites 2016 summit in Cape Town.According to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, the number of rhinos poached in South Africa is spiking, with 1 215 poached in 2014 – up from 1 004 in 2013 and 668 in 2012. Operation Game Change says this is a rise from just 122 rhinos poached five years earlier.The Wiesenmaiers said the poaching of rhinoceroses was gruesome, Voice of America reported. Poachers tranquilised the animal and then cut off the horn. When the rhino woke up it slowly bled to death.In Asia, consumers buy horn products they believe cure everything from cancer to hangovers. At tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram, the horns are a luxury item sometimes given to bosses and officials. “To know that these animals are killed for pure greed and money, for some funny belief that the horn is a status symbol, that’s a tragedy,’ said Victoria.Personal issueSpeaking from the Laos-Vietnam border, she told Voice of America the issue was personal. A friend in South Africa had four of the six rhinos on his reservation slaughtered; he decided to leave the carcasses out so that people could see the results of poaching.“We saw live rhinos before that, so to see this crumbled, dead thing, it was really shocking, it was disgusting.”Vietnam is the biggest consumer of rhino horns in the world, and on their journey, Vanessa and Victoria are targeting schools, where they give a presentation about the harms of the horn trade, hold a discussion and then have students create artwork on the topic.It is hoped the children will be more open-minded and pass on the message to their parents. Vietnamese businessmen, celebrities, and state officials are “the strongest driver of the current rhino poaching crisis”, according to a 2013 report by wildlife group Traffic.South Africa and Vietnam are the key countries involved in the supply and demand sides of the rhino trade, respectively.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Could regional integration make Africa the next big economic success story?

first_imgIt’s by time countries in Africa work as one to better its economy. This means tearing down borders to allow Africans to freely move and trade within the continent. At this year’s WEF Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, regional integration was on everyone’s lips. Attendees of the event wondered if an Africa free of borders would improve the continent’s socio-economic situation. (Image: Youtube)• How can digital technology boost growth in Africa?• Librarian saves ancient African manuscripts in Timbuktu• Fast facts: Africa from A to Z• Rwanda: Marvel of growth and WEF Africa 2016 host• Infographic: African alliances help boost regional prosperity By Mo Ibrahim, Chairman: Mo Ibrahim FoundationIt won’t be long before Africa’s rapidly expanding population bypasses China’s. We are now little more than 100 million people behind. With a young, energetic and increasingly well-educated workforce, it should provide a powerful motor for our continent to emulate China’s stellar performance.There may be concerns – not least in Africa – about China’s economic slowdown. But while its increase in GDP in 2015 may have been the lowest for a generation, it was still 6.9%. It means its growth was the equivalent of adding on the entire economy of Switzerland or Saudi Arabia.Of course, China remains the success story of the last 30 years. But just imagine how different the picture might have been if China was divided into 54 states, each with its own customs rules, its own currency and national infrastructure that rarely linked with its neighbours. Does anyone seriously believe that a China saddled with such divisions could have grown so quickly into the world’s biggest economy?WATCH: The press conference on regional integration held at WEF Africa 2016A globalized worldThe answer explains why economic integration is so critical to our continent and citizens. In a globalized economy, size really does matter. It’s why, in my opinion, a decision by Britain to withdraw from the European Union would be bad for Britain and bad for the countries it left behind. The single market has been Europe’s greatest achievement and breaking it up would be a major mistake.A large internal market provides the strong platform needed to compete across the world, driving industrialization and attracting investment. Yet Africa, which could have a single market with twice Europe’s number of consumers, still finds itself hopelessly divided into fragmented national markets, which are often too small to benefit from economies of scale.We all know the problems these divisions bring. They have, after all, been a major topic of frustration at every Forum meeting in Africa.Trade tariffs in African are 50% higher than in Latin America and Asia. Slow and onerous customs procedures on the continent mean it can take goods three times longer than the OECD average to move over borders. The result is trade between African countries is a fraction the level in Europe or Asia.It helps explain, too, why the continent’s infrastructure, which is already inadequate, is so disjointed. Transport links stop at borders. A failure of imagination and national self-interest has prevented regional answers to energy shortages.There are welcome steps under way to remove the barriers blocking trade, preventing industrial co-operation and discouraging investment. The new Tripartite Free Trade Area aims to create a trading zone from Cairo to Cape Town. Let’s hope the momentum is maintained.WATCH: The discussion “Realising Africa as One Market” at WEF Africa 2016Consumers are leading the wayThe first economic integration initiatives in Africa were launched a century ago. Yet with the odd exception, the formal and informal barriers remain.Too many of our continent’s leaders talk a good game about the need for regional integration but forget what they have promised when they return home from African Union summits. It is too easy to use short-term national interests as a justification for ignoring the need for cross-border infrastructure or to keep in place protectionist barriers.The good news is that consumers are not waiting for government action but are using technology to work around these barriers. Telecoms and financial services are just two of the sectors where innovation is so fast and all-embracing that it has enabled national restrictions to be ignored. New services are being offered faster than old regulation can cope.But while technology and consumer power are important – and increasingly driving change – we can’t afford to wait for their positive impact. It won’t build the regional power infrastructure or new cross-border transport links, or slash tariffs or customs red tape fast enough. We need political leadership. It’s about time we turned rhetoric into reality over regional integration in Africa.last_img read more