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

Rhino Commission of Inquiry Presentations

The founder of Youth 4 African Wildlife, Dex Kotze, and one of our former interns, Fortunate M. Phaka, along with others involved in rhino conservation efforts recently made presentations to the South African government’s rhino committee of inquiry concerning possible ways to solve the poaching crisis. The committee was established to deliberate on the possibility

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.

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

Our First Internship For 2015

Our first internship for 2015 is in full swing. The new interns have settled in well, everyone enjoys living among wildlife and their conservation journey is becoming more personal as their bond with nature grows. To follow their progress and see how they apply their newly acquired photography, filmmaking and social media skills follow the

Rhino horns of a trade dilemma: A summary of the anti- & pro-trade arguments

It is always good to hear both sides of the story and it is also fair to both parties involved. There’s currently a debate raging on about whether or not legalising trade in horn will be a good move in the fight against rhino poaching. The South African government has made no secret of their

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


“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

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

Mozambique’s hand in rhino poaching

When Mozambique’s civil war ended over 2 decades ago it left the country with socio-economic problems plus a cache of firearms that were used during the fighting. The country is currently one of the poorest in the world with about 60% of the population living in extreme poverty including ex-soldiers that fought in the war.

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,

My First Day in the Bush–A Dream Come True

Today I entered the Bush for my very first time in what I know will be the first of many over the course of my life. I am lucky enough to be a part of a beautiful group, Youth 4 African Wildlife, that is spending 6 weeks deep in the South African Bush filming our

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

Barbarians at Ivory’s Gate

“Africa’s human and natural resources have been pillaged and plundered for generations by people from far off lands. Our elephant ivory and rhino horn are going to countries where they are used for God knows what! Only to satisfy ridiculous outdated beliefs whilst we remain with carcasses, as proof we once owned these magnificent animals.”

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