What the world thinks I do. What family thinks I do. What I really do; I’m a conservationist.

Written by: Fortunate M. Phaka What the world thinks I do. To the world I am a hopeless romantic head over hills in love with anything wild. My love is unconditional, always willing to lay my life on the line to save that one ancient tree or that rare butterfly. The world sees me as

Collaring Elephants: Inside their social circles and movement patterns, we learn how to better protect them

written by Victoria Baldwin, Y4AW intern of July, 2015 It takes twenty-six of my hands to palm the girth of an average elephant collar. Harnessing an animal that size isn’t tangible until you hold the leather and buckles, pass the weight between your arms. Nothing about it feels right, clasping something around a neck that

Keeping up with our former interns: Lianna Nixon

After completing her Youth 4 African Wildlife Internship in 2014, Lianna Nixon returned back to Boulder, Colorado to continue her studies at University of Colorado’s Classics department. Since then, Lianna has been greatly involved with educating her community on wildlife issues that vary on an international scale. She organized the Global March For Elephants And

50 Days to Save the African Rhino

Rhino poaching is not a local problem anymore; it is a global issue. Five young people from around the world came to South Africa to work together and make a difference. They had 50 days to raise global awareness and funds to help save the African rhino from extinction.

Banned Canned Hunting of Lions

Y4AW ambassador Kate Ochsman delves into the world of canned lion hunting and uses her interview with lion whisperer, Kevin Richardson, to highlight the various issues surrounding Canned Hunting such as the difference between canned hunting and ethical hunting, and the manipulation of volunteers. This film also features footage from Chris Mercer of cannedlion.org. https://youtu.be/4dEl7c1zFAI?list=UUw0GsPp9l3tMKZTUssE9MFA

Is it time to move rhinos to safe havens?

The sun began to set during the cool evening, stretching a golden hue over the African sky. I put down my camera to soak in the magnificence that lay before my eyes, a gift from nature. The sunlight reflected against their silhouettes, radiating tones of silver from their skin. I keenly watched as the lone

Attachment Effects of Poaching

I am fascinated by the human psyche. I studied psychology for six years, two of which were from a family systems context during my postgraduate studies. As I delve into the natural world and experience the beauty of wildlife, I have enjoyed learning about the psychological and emotional aspects of animals, both independently and within

The seduction of nature

A must read by Jamie Joseph about beauty, bloodlust and ivory. The sins of the father must end in this generation. Jamie works alongside various wildlife organisations in Africa, ‘writing stories from the trenches’, and sharing these stories from the ground up. Her objective is to educate, inspire and raise awareness of the plight of our

The elephant orphans of Kenya

Prior to joining Youth 4 African Wildlife, I had the privilege of spending five days in Nairobi, Kenya with Edwin Lusichi, head keeper of David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. For more than 15 years, Edwin has been part of the DSWT team, rescuing orphaned baby elephants that have been victimized by poaching and human-wildlife conflict, with

Citizen Carnage: Materialism & Misconceptions Killing Our Wildlife (Video)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM6P4wRTyNc&w=854&h=510] Actress & Environmentalist Kate Bowen plays the role of ‘Citizen Carnage’, a self-centred modern human being leading a materialistic life filled with misconceptions about wildlife, the type of person the world does not need. Citizen Carnage does what she wants. She doesn’t care who is left crying, dead and extinct in her wake.

Conservation is never a black & white issue

Conservation is rarely a black or white issue; not only from a racial perspective but from ethical and economic viewpoints as well. Conservation has one ultimate goal but people justify their involvement in conservation in many different ways. You get people that conserve wildlife solely for its inherent value and consider human beings to be

Banking on sustainability

Sustainable development is a term that is not easy to define or interpret. For this reason sustainability is also a vague concept. At one extreme you have weak sustainability which allows for a trade-off between the environment and economic growth. At the other extreme there is strong sustainability which advocates for natural stocks to remain


“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong in the broken places.” -Ernest Hemmingway I’m familiar with the concept of trauma. In fact, I know it intimately – I have had more than my fair share. But trauma is not a problem unique to my experience. In some cases, people are traumatized so badly

The only way to remove the rhino poaching weed is by uprooting it.

Growing up in the rural parts of South Africa and helping out in my grandmother’s garden I learned at an early age that the best way to get rid of weeds was to pull them out by the roots. My grandmother being a very traditional gardener did not believe in herbicides, and to this day

Run For Your Life

I’m a runner. I try to run everyday for at least 15 minutes. Outside. No treadmills allowed. And I have been a runner for about a year and a half. Well, a relatively regular runner for a year and a half now. When I started, it was just to try and get fit. Get healthy.

Earth does not need us

The world is like a living being. Like the cells, tissues, and organs of a certain organism working together to keep that organism alive so do the various components of the Earth. From microorganisms to elephants and their ecosystems right through to super-organisms, they all contribute as either cells, tissues or organs that are interconnected

How #BringBackOurElephants Can #BringBackOurGirls

I have long been interested in environmental conservation, but only recently have I truly been able to begin working in the field of conservation education. This past year I taught at a bilingual school in Spain: it was technically an internship, but due to the fact that I was the first the school had ever

Rhino and moon are leaving us

Having rhinos and the moon in the same sentence sounds like some far-fetched fairy tale that Disney dreamt up. Truth is though; there is a similarity between the two as they are both leaving us albeit due to different reasons.  As things currently stand this is a fairy tale without a happy ending. According to

To Serve and Protect

We’ve been at the reserve for just under two weeks now, and the team seems to have established itself as something as a constant. Though various families and groups of friends have come to visit and left again after a few days, we stay and continue working on our projects and the final documentary. Each

Connectivity— My Religion

“I heard you talking earlier about religion. And I was just wondering what you believe in? Are you religious?” –      JP (head ranger & my friend) For a few extended seconds, I stared at JP. It was the first time in a good long while that I’ve been asked to play the religion game. Growing

The Black Backed Jackal and Me

So, I’m a romantic. I’m talking a hard-core romantic here. I’m talking visualizing my very own music videos to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” where Prince Charming enfolds me in his arms and kisses me, passionately, in the forest, under the moonlight, on a unicorn. But, here’s the thing— I’m a secret romantic. When it comes

In the Rough

The past few days have been pretty intense. I’ve been feeling a lot of things, sometimes feeling my way through the dark. First with the film classes: Marius Van Straaten has been teaching us his tricks, possibly all the tricks in the book, so we can get the best footage and the best shots to

Everybody Poops

We’ve been so lucky so far. We saw four white rhinos the very first game drive, a circus of elephants (the technical term for a group) in the evening the next day, and a cheetah in the next morning. We’ve also been lucky with the people, who have taught us a great deal about poaching,

From one Generation to the Next

Finally, we are on the road to the reserve. The ride has been fairly unremarkable. There have been no incidents and no drama, only continuous scenery of grasslands sparsely dotted with trees as far as the eye can see: with the exception, of course, of the mountain Fortunate told us about. The legend is that

A Digital Conservation Movement : The Holy Grail for wildlife?

The African continent is recognised by the world for its wildlife habitat. A much faster pace of industrialisation and earlier population explosions on other continents over the last few hundred years have resulted in extreme eradication of wildlife in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Africa is the last remaining bastion of wildlife preservation and the

Rhinos: Why did South Africa skip a vital conference on illegal wildlife trade?

In London last week international media scrambled to cover the high-level and much anticipated international conference on illegal wildlife trade. However, there was one notable absentee. South Africa’s absence at the conference and non-participation in the signing of the London Declaration are raising serious concerns regarding its commitment to ending the onslaught on its rhinos.Conservationists