Biodiversity loss impacts us all, from the largest megafauna, such as rhino and elephant, to the smallest insects, such as the dung beetle and termites.

In a recent UN biodiversity study on the plants, animals and micro-organisms vital for the production of our food UN State of the World's Biodiversity, the stark findings of the rapid and potentially catastrophic decline in key ecosystems essential for agriculture were clearly reported. Overexploitation, degradation and pollution are having a catastrophic effect on many species, including pollinators, soil organisms and the natural enemies of pests that contribute to vital ecosystems for food. The supply of freshwater and key habitats for species such as fish and pollinators are all at risk.

As Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to the largest population of black rhinos in eastern Africa as well as the last two northern white rhinos, so succinctly put it, "The absolute truth is, if we humans don't urgently change the way we interact with the planet & the way we consume, we will soon be left with a home totally bereft of wild things and wild places and we will be much the poorer for it."

Speaking at Ireland’s first ever Biodiversity Conference on 21st February this year, President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins told the audience that the timeframe to transform our world and make space for nature is "perilously short". Around the world, the library of life that has evolved over billions of years – our biodiversity – is being destroyed, poisoned, polluted, invaded, fragmented, plundered, drained and burned at a rate not seen in human history.

"We are the first generation to truly comprehend the reality of what we’re doing to the natural world," said the Irish President, "and we may be the last with the chance to avert much of the damage. With this knowledge comes an extraordinary burden of responsibility that we all share,’ and he went on to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of environmental NGOs in raising awareness of the ‘continuing and emerging threats to our environment."

Helping Rhinos mantra, ‘It’s time to change the way we think about wildlife conservation’ was born out of a knowledge and understanding that a healthy environment is paramount for every single living species, that in Africa particularly, illegal hunting and poaching that is driving wildlife species to the very brink of extinction, must be curtailed. When our Patron, Giles Clarke visited Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy before he died a year ago in March, he told us what an emotional moment it was and made him wonder,
"How did we do so little to protect the northern white rhino in its natural world."

To quote Richard Vigne again, "If we humans see no value in what wildlife has to offer then it will have no part to play, it will be removed and forever it will be lost. Our challenge in the face of burgeoning (human) populations is, how can we make conservation of wildlife and wild places valuable to everyday lives of poor people who see no benefit, have other priorities and see wildlife only to be eaten or poached for profit."

The work Ol Pejeta Conservancy has undertaken to face this challenge, in the conservancy and in the community, is the reason Helping Rhinos is so proud to partner with them.

At ‘Rhinos Road to Recovery’, an event at the Royal Geographical Society on 4th April 2019, hosted by Helping Rhinos and Ol Pejeta Conservancy, we want to share with you the success of this partnership. In protecting rhinos, you are helping to preserve the biodiversity, a natural habitat and a myriad of other wildlife species. It is the responsibility, not just of the conservancy or the government of the day but of what the world has become, a global community, and we must all play our part.

Theodore Roosevelt said of nature, "The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as does protection." Wise words that we would do well to heed.

Both Richard Vigne and Giles Clarke will both join us at ‘Rhinos Road to Recovery’. Our special guest speakers, TV Presenter, Patrick Ayree and Carer of the last two northern white rhinos, James Mwenda will discuss some of the challenges of ensuring the next generation enjoys the biodiversity and the iconic wildlife that we must never take for granted.

Tickets for ‘Rhinos Road to Recovery’ are available to purchase here.

 

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