Barclays Bank Botswana engages youth in rhino conservation

Reinette van der Merwe,  Barclays MD

Reinette van der Merwe

Barclays Bank of Botswana has launched a partnership with Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) to foster youth development and promote wildlife conservation. The initiative will address youth unemployment associated with social ills and also teach environmental sustainability to young people.

The project will focus around the rhino conservation which according to Reinette van der Merwe, Barclays MD ‘will cease to exist at the current state’. The MD explained that the partnership mobilises the young people and train them to be able to secure work or start their own enterprises as well as protect their natural resources from which they can derive economic benefits in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Youth in Boteti, Ngamiland, Okavango and Chobe districts will be provided with enterprise, employability, money management and environmental conservation skills.

“I am very excited about the project and the opportunities it presents to young people in these areas,” she said. “As a responsible corporate citizen, our involvement in protecting the natural resources of Botswana and youth empowerment to become economically active is critical.  We remain committed to the holistic development of Botswana and our people,” she stated.

The project will see KCS work closely with community trusts in the areas for youth mobilisation, and ensure its effective implementation. It will run for 12 months. Some of the youth will be trained as guides and secure jobs in the parks. “I am excited about the impact this project will have,” stated the Barclays MD. She added that the bank will be launching a rhino branded credit cards.

Other partners involved in the project include the Khama Rhino Sanctuary and the Botswana Wildlife Training Institute where youth will attend guiding classes.  Neil Fitt, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism praised the new initiative as it will help educate the nation on threatened rhino population.

“I am pleased to have partners like these to re-establish iconic species,” he said. Rhino poaching is rife in Africa with South Africa, which has large animal herd hit hard by poachers. In South Africa alone, over 1000 rhinos were poached in 2013 and by July this year, about 500 were already poached. This explains why conservationists in South Africa are translocating these animals to Botswana where anti poaching activities are given top priority. “There has been pressure on rhinos. It is very frightening,” said Fitt.

Fitt hopes this project will lift community participation in anti poaching while also skilfully empowering young people. Of the figure of over P800, 000 donated by Barclays, P150, 000 will go towards Khama Rhino Sanctuary to translocate rhinos from Madikwe in South and the funds will be used to pay for transportation for the animals.

Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in personal banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth and investment management with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Barclays’ purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.

With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs approximately 140,000 people.

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