The 3rd March of every year is celebrated as World Wildlife Day (WWD). This day was established at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the 20th December 2013. The date (3rd March) has been chosen because it is the date when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was adopted. Proposed by Thailand, the day has been set apart to raise awareness of wildlife especially big mammals such as elephants, tiger and whales.
The theme of this year is “Listen to the young voices”. This theme reflects the role of youth empowerment in wildlife management and biodiversity conservation. According to this theme, youth should be engaged in research and other projects related to biodiversity conservation in order to alleviate wildlife threats.
In Rwanda, poaching is still a serious challenge to tackle due to local communities’ livelihood issues. Poachers use traditional weapons such as spears, bows, arrows, and dogs, although modern weapons have been also reported by Rwanda Development Board in 2014 where large mammals were mainly concerned. The WWD is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife as a source of socio-economic, ecological, and cultural benefits in addition to their intrinsic values.
Nowadays, Rwandan youth are more engaged in wildlife conservation through different initiatives in the country; among them there are Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, Cooperative of Biodiversity Conservation (BIOCOOP) around Nyungwe National Park, Rwagasabo Tours, Rwanda Biodiversity Media Group (RBMG), One Health Club and Rwanda University Club for Conservation of Biodiversity (RUCC). Despite the commitment of Rwanda in conservation, youth are limited to the access of funding. The promotion of youth activities in conservation should be emphasized and facilitated to participate in seminars, workshops, and public talks to enlarge their network and opportunities of meeting donors
by Nzibaza Venant.