By Ankitha Venguswamy, Maria Alonso Novo, and Sarah Bigley, leaders of the Wildlife Conservation Hub

The Wildlife Conservation Hub is a group of teens from around the world who are focused on preserving the environment, protecting species of wildlife including endangered animals, and raising awareness to the plights many animals and their habitats face. We meet weekly for one hour in our virtual room to discuss ideas and implement projects in our own communities. Some of our most recent projects have included webinars with guest speakers in the field of conservation, a community garden and beekeeping initiative in Virginia, and writing our synthesis research paper on the effects of poaching in Africa on the world. We have collaborated with many nonprofit organizations who are committed to protecting wildlife such as Rhinosaverz, and Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots organization. The Wildlife Conservation hub is one of many different hubs within the Global Co Lab Network, and we would love passionate teens globally to join us in preserving wildlife biodiversity and making a difference in our communities.

Over the past few months, the Wildlife Conservation Hub has dedicated our time to creating and compiling a research paper outlining in detail the effects of poaching in South Africa on local communities, economies, ecosystems, and the world. Our idea initially started in late 2020 when our team wanted to know more about poaching and how individuals could make a difference in their own communities to combat poaching. As we learned more about the topic, we realized that there were numerous areas and sectors of life which poaching affected, including the spread of zoonotic diseases, the economy, the social interaction and behavior of animals, and species extinction, to name a few. The intersectionality of all of these issues being a result of poaching gave us lots of new insight, and we decided we wanted to compile all of our research into one synthesis that others can read to develop their own understanding of how poaching impacts our world.

We received lots of feedback on our research paper from our amazing mentors and were able to create 9 sections that detail several different aspects of life that are impacted by poaching on a daily basis, in addition to our abstract, introduction, and conclusion. We have also worked in collaboration with the Arts Hub, another group of the Global Co-Lab, to create visual infographics to communicate our message through art. Through our paper and associated art and social media outreach, we outlined how poaching can, directly and indirectly, affect the spread of zoonotic diseases, lead to the extinction of species, contribute to organized crime and terrorism, and lead to different social behaviors and fitness in animals, among other effects. We are looking to gain more exposure for our paper, and present it in front of audiences through panels and discussions, so that we can educate more people on this topic.  If you would like to read our full paper, please click here.  If you would like to help us or get involved, please contact us at [email protected]