By Amelia Meyer
Educating the local communities in Asia and Africa is an integral part of preserving the rhinoceroses (as well as the many other valuable plant- and animal species) that share these areas with the people.
Oftentimes, it is these local communities that do not realise the value of the natural resources around them. As a result, they use them in a way that is not sustainable, thus causing lasting damage to the environment and, ultimately, to themselves.
The Black Rhino comprises four distinct subspecies.
1.The South Central Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis minor) Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
2.The South-western Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) - Namibia, Angola, Botswana and South Africa.
3.The East African Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) Tanzania (after extensive poaching and habitat loss, its homelands are limited).
4.The West African Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) this subspecies has been declared extinct since November 2011.
For this reason, organisations that work for the conservation of rhinos need to focus on the role that the people near the rhinos can play in creating a healthy, sustainable home for them to share with one another.
Education is a major part of raising this awareness. Such teaching needs to start as young as possible to create a generation of people that understand the value, needs and challenges of creating a sustainable environment and who can see the mutual benefit of such efforts. This training includes conducting courses for game rangers, vets, wildlife security personnel, and so on. However, it should transcend environmental-specific career choices with the aim of simply making everyone (whether farmers, plumbers or entrepreneurs) aware of the role that they are able to play in conservation. This requires dedicated trainers and educators as well as plenty of funds.
One of the ways of successfully educating local communities is to create financially viable businesses for them that are, at the same time, designed to protect the environment and its fauna and flora. In this way, the people are able to care for their needs while still playing a key role in supporting and sustaining their natural resources. These initiatives may range from organic farming to ecotourism career choices that rural folk may never have explored were it not for this training and education. These initiatives have a resultant pay-off in that they promote countries in Africa and Asia on a global market for their rich cultural and natural abundance. So, these places become popular destinations for visitors around the world, who then inject more money into the countries and contribute to the financial success of the locals. To get these people to conceive of and understand the long-term rewards is the aim of such educational initiatives.
Another integral part of educating people en masse is the cooperation of the government, since this education needs to take place at many different levels. In addition, sponsorships from large corporations are also frequently necessary to enable educational facilities to increase their scope to the extent necessary. Getting this sponsorship is not always easy, particularly if there is no perceived need for the educational initiative. These are just some of the challenges that such educational facilities face. They need to be tackled swiftly and effectively if saving the rhinos and their habitats is to be a viable option.