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Title: Saving mother earth - South Africa boasts one of the largest nature reserves in Africa - Kruger National Park.
Date: 04 November 2011
Source/Author: http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/goodlife/2011/11/03/saving-mother-earth (Mamodima Monnakgotla)
Category: International

The park boasts more than 140 mammal species, including the Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. It is also a vast floral kingdom, containing about 456 different flower species per 1000 square kilometres. Approximately 70% of the country's vascular plants - predominant in Eastern Cape - occur nowhere else. Ntsikeni Nature Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal has more than 1000ha of wetland and is one of the largest high-altitude wetlands in Africa - ranging from 1752m to 1795m. Significantly, in 2010, this unique wetland area was designated as a national and international heritage site. According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust, seven rhinos were poached in 2000, which - over the intervening years - rose to 324 in 2011, due to the escalating demand for rhino horns, used as aphrodisiacs in the East. This illicit, insatiable lust is being satisfied by unscrupulous people - many of whom are entrusted with the safety, security and enhancement of this heritage. The plunder is not restricted to animals. Three of the 39 cycad tree species in South Africa are extinct - the result of poachers ripping these precious national assets out of the ground to make money from the market's demand. The Working for Wetlands Programme implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) reveals that out of the 114000 wetlands mapped around SA, many are either deteriorating, or have been destroyed completely - all due to negative human impact, or simply put: a scant regard for nature conservation, protection of the environment or a deliberate refusal by communities to lend a hand to sustainable development debates and activities. What if the rhino and cycad tree become extinct? Or every wetland goes dry? The question is: Will the human race survive, as we continue to deplete Mother Earth in so many uncaring ways? All of these talking points were raised at the launch in Johannesburg recently of Generation Earth, a new youth environmental organisation, led by Catherine and Ella-Bella Constantinides, who are on a mission to save and protect the earth - well, at least in SA, and spread the gospel of nature conservation, environmental education and awareness, and sustainable development throughout the globe. "This movement is not work for us, it's our life," says the Constantinides sisters. The youth organisation involving - initially - 400 pupils from several schools nationwide is partnering with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNDP) and SA's departments of environmental affairs and of basic education. The launch of Generation Earth was a well-attended two-day summit that was sponsored by several business companies and organisations. An underlying theme was Climate Change. It is also designed as a youth platform ahead of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17), that is due to take place in Durban later this month.
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