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Teen calls on young people to get involved in conservation

Written by: David Rosenzweig

With the recent killing of Cecil, Hwange National Park’s most iconic lion, in addition to the rapid decline of keystone species such as the rhino and the elephant, I wanted to chime in and give a teen’s perspective on what is going on.

Male lions, such as the one pictured above, are shot each day by trophy hunters around the world.

Male lions, such as the one pictured above, are shot each day by trophy hunters around the world.

At 17 years of age, I have experienced things that few others will in their lifetimes. Whether it’s seeing lions in the wild or participating in a rhino relocation, I often find it difficult to believe just how lucky I am to have been. That said, I have a fear that is escalating as stories such as Cecil’s come to light.

My worry is that although I have had the ability to experience wild Africa, my children and grandchildren won’t be able to do the same. But the fear does not stop there; it is becoming entirely plausible to think that people my age won’t have the ability to see a rhino roam the African savanna or a lion stalk its prey under the cover of darkness. With recent estimates giving a number of species only 10 to 15 years left on this earth, there is simply too little time.

Despite this, the fuel to the fire has been set and people are starting to get involved. Celebrities such as Ricky Gervais, Piers Morgan and Jimmy Kimmel are starting to show the world what the situation in Africa has come to. Lobbying organisations and conservationist groups have sprung up across the globe and are fighting for the rights of Africa’s majestic wildlife.

But who hasn’t yet stepped foot into the ring to fight for nature? The people whose problem it soon will be, that’s who. As the generation who will be inheriting this situation soon, we must not sit around and wait until we are older. By the time it is our turn to step up to the plate and fight for wildlife conservation, it will already be too late. That is why I am writing this letter. I am calling on young people across the world to stand up and act. Here are just a few ways that you can make a difference!

Experts say rhino may go extinct within the next 10 to15 years.

Experts say rhino may go extinct within the next 10 to15 years.

1. Raise money for a cause. A few months back, I decided that I wanted to make my voice heard. By selling some of my photos, I was able to raise money for rhino conservation, while at the same time broadening my sphere of influence. But raising money is just one of the many ways that you can help in the fight for wildlife survival.

2. Have a social media account? If so, share articles and photos that can help inform others of what is going on. Use hashtags and follow accounts that talk about wildlife conservation. The more people that know, the better!

3. Start a petition. There are new and exciting sites out there that have been designed to start petitions about a cause. Also look out for petitions that are really making a difference and add your signature.

Wanted for their ivory tusks, nearly 100,000 elephants were killed in the last 3 years.

Wanted for their ivory tusks, nearly 100,000 elephants were killed in the last 3 years.

4. Send a letter to your local government official. Although they may receive letters all of the time, few ever receive letters from kids that are advocating a cause.

5. Still not sure what to do? Drop me an email at davidrosenzweigphotography@gmail.com. I’d be more than happy to help you find your place in the fight for wildlife conservation.

There are so many ways that we, as kids, can make a difference. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young to have a voice. Let’s show the world just how powerful kids can be. The fight begins now!

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