Operation Game Change: Students Exchange of Outreach Program

Wildlife champions and founders of One More Generation from the United States and young Rhino Ambassadors from South Africa arrived in Hanoi on October 24 for a weeklong outreach exchange with Vietnamese youth to address the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, and present for signing the World Youth Wildlife Declaration, a world-wide call to action from young people against rhino poaching, illegal wildlife trade and help give them a voice to support conservation and safeguard their own futures.

On Sunday 25 October, the eight Rhino Ambassadors were joined by U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius for the Rally for Rhinos, a bike ride tour around West Lake, with local cycling enthusiasts. Supported by Freeland, Fusion BodyWorks, Tour De Fun and Vietjet, the Rally for Rhinos brought much needed public attention to South Africa’s rhino poaching crisis and initiated a groundswell of support and a growing voice to end illegal trade and consumption of rhino horn and other endangered animal species that put many species on the brink of extinction.

The Rhino Ambassadors met with leaders of Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) to discuss South Africa’s poaching crisis and the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam. In addition to signing the Declaration book that calls for an end to rhino poaching and wildlife crime, they shared ideas about ways in which Vietnam and South Africa can work together under their Memorandum of Understanding to end illegal wildlife trade and keep the money out of the hands of international terrorists and crime syndicates.

The Rhino Ambassadors also met with Hanoi University of Pharmacy and Nguyen Binh Khiem School students who, together, pledged not to 1) use, 2) gift and 3) accept rhino horn. Taking concrete action to save the planet, they put their feet in paint and imprinted footprints on cloth as part of the One Million Footprints to Save Africa.

The trip’s highlight occurred when the Rhino Ambassadors handed the Declaration book to Mr. Vu Minh Ly, Director of National Volunteer Center, Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union with Ambassador Osius and South African Ambassador Kgomotso Ruth Magau as witnesses. The Rhino Ambassadors will speak about their experiences in South Africa, in the U.S. and visiting Hanoi at American Center on Thursday, October 29 and at ENV’s rhino exhibit at Cau Giay park on October 31 from 10:00 to 11:00.

This student exchange outreach program is one of many activities that Operation Game Change supports in the lead-up to WildFest, an outdoor film and music festival that takes place at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long on November 8, 2015. WildFest will also serve as a platform for high level government representatives, celebrities, business leaders, NGO partners and the media to come together to show their public and collective joint commitment to ending the illegal trade of wildlife.

Visit www.wildfest.org for more information on how to get free ticket.