Students chosen to create plan to conserve South African rhinos

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    There is no proven medicinal value for rhinoceros horns, but in 2013, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. 

    Next week, TCU and the Institute for Environmental Studies will bring a South African wildlife vet and rhino specialist, Dr. William Fowlds, to campus. He will be working with 23 students from April 21-25 to devise a “Blueprint for Survival” that will address all aspects of poaching.

    The students were selected from various disciplines for the critical conversation groups with Fowlds. They were chosen to help with the blueprint due to their passion to make a difference said Mike Slattery, director of the Institute for Environmental Studies.

    Fowlds said that South Africa cannot solve this problem alone and they are reliant on international response to this global crisis.

    “By exposing the TCU community to a major issue from the other side of the planet, my hope is that we begin to forge a relationship which will stimulate a fresh application of minds to this problem,” he said.

    Katherine Fogelberg, a junior Ph.D. student in Science Education, said she wants to gain a better understanding of the reasons for poaching by looking deeper into the issue and into the minds of the poachers.

    “If we take the time to understand why poachers poach, perhaps we will be able to move even further forward on our path to figuring out how to stop them,” Fogelberg said.

    The TCU Quality Enhancement Plan is sponsoring Fowlds visit as a part of its global innovator initiative. 

    This initiative brings innovative individuals from developing countries to the TCU campus to participate in multi-disciplined curricular and co-curricular programs. 

    Fowlds is a global innovator because he is someone who is truly affecting change on the ground and can offer first-hand experience to engage the students, Slattery said, who proposed this idea to the QEP.

    “Ultimately my proposal was built around the most complex outcome: Hoping students will make responsible decisions about global issues,” Slattery said.

    Rhino poaching became an issue in 2007 and students said they did not know about the issue and its severity.

    “The people I told about Dr. Fowlds’ visit were shocked because they didn’t know about rhino poaching and the recent trauma it has caused in South Africa,” said Sidney Dennis, a first-year biology major.

    This is the first year the program will take place, but Slattery said that he is hoping to expand and take the students to South Africa next summer to work with Fowlds.

    In addition to creating a “Blueprint for Survival,” the students said they hope to inform others on campus as well.

    “I want to raise awareness so more people will know about it and so it can be stopped,” junior communication studies major Marie Bailey said.

    Beyond the critical conversations, the public is invited to attend Fowlds lecture on rhino conservation and human development in South Africa.

    William Fowlds will be speaking on April 23 in the Brown-Lupton University Union at 7 p.m.

    “I hope that students who expose themselves to these issues will start growing a desire to learn more about the natural world we have been blessed with, on which our futures depend,” Fowlds said.