Project Rhino KZN and the Kingsley Holgate Foundation joined forces in April 2013 for the Izintaba Zobombo Expedition, which traversed the Lubombo Mountain Range that forms South Africa’s border with Mozambique, from Zimbabwe in the north to the Indian Ocean.
This region is home to the largest concentration of wild rhinos in the world.
The expedition travelled through the Kruger National Park and nearby private reserves, across the fence line into the ‘Rhino War Zone’ of Mozambique and Parc Nacional do Limpopo, and south through the nature reserves of Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal.
And so began the most comprehensive youth-orientated survey on rhino poaching ever carried out in Southern Africa. Using art and soccer, the Rhino Art-Let the Children’s Voices Be Heard campaign has now reached over 250,000 young people mainly throughout southern and central Africa with a rhino conservation message that encourages them to voice their thoughts about rhino poaching. It involves local communities that are at times silent witnesses to the rhino poaching war, increases conservation awareness amongst the youth and adds to the groundswell of public support needed to end rhino poaching and other wildlife crimes.
Also in 2013, the campaign was showcased at the President Joaquim Chissano Wildlife Crime Initiative launch in Mozambique and its Children’s Voices video was shown on Vietnamese national TV.
In May 2014, the Rhino Art campaign was introduced to Vietnam reaching 4,900 students in twenty secondary and high schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Six of these Rhino Art participants attended the World Youth Rhino Summit and became youth wildlife ambassadors for Vietnam; they continue to speak out against the slaughter of Africa’s rhinos and call for an end to consumer demand.
At the 2014 Rhino Conservation Awards, Rhino Art-Let the Children’s Voices Be Heard was recognised by the Game Rangers Association of Africa for its Education & Community Awareness efforts.
Rhino Art – Let the Children’s Voices be Heard is considered to be the most successful youth-art conservation initiative ever undertaken. Its clear objective is to gather the largest number of Children’s Art Voices ever recorded in support of rhino conservation and to use these ‘hearts and minds’ messages from the youth as a worldwide call to action against rhino poaching.
5 Key Success Factors of the project
- Access to schools and direct engagement – the project is a passport to talk with youth in relevant communities;
- Promotes goodwill – community relationship building between the conservation sector, game reserves & communities;
- Rhino education – the exciting visual and experiential learning process makes it memorable;
- Collects messages from youth in grass roots communities – used as a call to action with decision makers (Project Rhino KZN’s #LetOurVoicesBeHeard initiative);
- Initiates a lifelong passion for wildlife and conservation in a cost effective way – positive return on investment for donors and project partners.