From the CYTSWeek 3 of CYTS Continued
August 5, 2016
HEAR IT FROM OUR CONSERVATION YOUTH TEAM: WEEK 3
Hi everyone, its Miah and Katie! Once again, our CYTs continue to impress everyone here at the zoo every day and we are so proud of them and all that they are doing! Our question of the week is “What conservation issue did you learn about in CYT that changed your behavior and what can people do to help?, and boy was it hard to choose just one! So, instead of choosing only one topic, we decided to discuss the topics that we are most passionate about as a team and how you can help with these issues.
Last summer, a very important issue we learned about was Pollution. Pollution is a topic that we are very passionate about here in the CYT program because its a very large problem with small, simple solutions; however, even though there are many solutions to the issue, it still remains a very big problem. Everyone knows about litter, garbage, and waste, but very few people realize the impact that our waste has on the environment as well as the animals that live there. During our two week training, all of the CYTs counted their one time use plastics, recyclable plastics, and reusable plastics from their lunches. After all of the calculations, we discovered that as a group we would end up using about 19,000 one time plastics like wrappers, plastics baggies, etc., and about 2,500 recyclable plastics a year just from lunch alone! All of the one time plastics would end up in a landfill and hopefully all of the recyclable plastics will be recycled, but there is no guarantee that our recycling plants in the Hampton Roads area are able to recycle every type of plastic. All together we would end up using 90 reusable plastics in a year, which helps keep one time use plastics out of landfills and the ocean. Using reusable plastic dishes is a way that everyone can help at home in the effort to cut down on our waste, and in the long run it will help everyone save a money as well! So, when you go back to school shopping, make sure to grab some cute reusable plastic containers for your lunches! Another thing that everyone can do to help cut down on pollution and help improve the soil of the earth is starting a compost pile. Not everyone may be able to have a compost pile, but for anyone who has a backyard of some sort, this is a very easy way to cut down waste in landfills. Placing your unused parts of your vegetables and fruits in a compost pile eventually leads to healthier, richer soil, helps the materials break down faster, and it helps keep waste out of landfills. Problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and floating islands made of nothing of garbage can eventually be solved, but only through the efforts made by everyone on the planet. The Conservation Youth Team has high hopes for the future because through education, we can teach others how they too can help in the fight against waste and pollution!
Another big issue is poaching, which is killing an animal illegally. Animals like tigers and rhinos are poached for body parts that are turned into (what people think is) medicine. Others, such as Siamangs and Red Pandas, are poached so that their young can be placed in the pet trade. Some cultures believe that certain body parts have medicinal value even though scientists have proved that there is none; for example, tigers are poached for their pelts, claws, teeth, certain organs, and bones. They will crush up the claws, teeth, and bones into a powder that can be bought to “cure” many illnesses. Rhinos are poached mainly for their horns, which are thought to cure cancer.
So, how can you help protect these beautiful animals and other species? There are many organizations, like the Tiger Conservation Campaign, that you can donate to and you can stay away from products that have animal parts, such as ivory, which is really an elephant’s tusk. Another important thing you can do to help would be to research where you are getting your pets from and to refrain from owning exotic animals as pets because odds are that they were taken from their families and their natural habitat. Lastly, one of the most important things we can do to help these animals is to educate others on this issue and tell everyone we can about the problem and the solutions.