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article imageOp-Ed: Nature Conservation, Social Media and the Internet

By Alex Volker     Apr 15, 2011 in Environment
There are few things as powerful as the written word. Once a subject has been printed, black on white, it is magically transformed to the accepted authoritative truth, regardless of whether it is plausible or truthful.
The Internet is totally entrenched in people’s daily lives for a number of purposes, such as business, communication and entertainment. In the same way social media, which is a product of the Internet has blossomed to such an extent as to define the Internet for certain people. Similarly social media is used for any purpose from keeping contact with friends and family to marketing a business.
The social media guilds have as many functions as they have applications and are used extensively by people from all age groups. The owners of social media sites often earn a considerable income from advertising revenue, from people advertising their goods and products.
FaceBook permits with few restrictions the posting of, amongst others, Internet links, photos videos and interactive elements such as applications, games and quizzes. These elements make promoting causes very easy and as a result messages are successfully passed from person to person virally or as they call it via word of mouth.
Twitter is another popular social media platform where a message comprising of less than 140 characters can be passed between people who have chosen to follow each other. As with FaceBook, Twitter allows links to other locations on the Internet and is regularly crawled by search engines to catalogue new content on the Internet.
Save the Rhinos of South Africa  Have Your Say!
Save the Rhinos of South Africa, Have Your Say!
The benefit of social media is the ability to reach and engage people from across the globe to partake in causes. Nature conservation, wildlife and the environment as a category makes the basis of many such causes. Rhino poaching has spiralled out of control in South Africa and other parts of the world.
In a recent article it was stated that border patrols in the Kruger Park are to be delegated to the military. This kind of show of force will surely act as a deterant, but is this enough to erradicate Rhino poaching entirely?
The Rhino threat is so great that it appears likely that the senseless poaching of Rhinos will drive them to extinction within only a few generations. The reprehensible facts are that the poaching of Rhinos is done for reason of pure greed under the auspices of medicinal healing of terminally ill patients. Rhino horn has been proven to have no medicinal benefit whatsoever, yet the harvesting of rhino horn is done by highly sophisticated poaching syndicates, spanning the world.
The Rhino Poaching crisis has received a significant amount of attention on social media sites such as FaceBook and Twitter, however, more can and must be done. YouTube, the popular video sharing site is less known as a social media network as it is as a video repository. YouTube integrates well with FaceBook and as a result of the ability to embed videos into a blog or website, has a far reach as is the case with FaceBook and Twitter.
Video in itself has advantages over printed material, because it is a visual stimulant, which engages both sight and hearing. A video is also not confined to the kind of footage one can obtain from a cell phone, camera, or camcorder, but any presentation, such as a PowerPoint file, that can be converted to a video file. In this manner environmental awareness can be spread in a visual as opposed to written style.
With modern day technology and access to the Internet, which previous generations did not enjoy, almost anybody can post wildlife clips to YouTube with similar or better quality than previous documentaries. This sentiment may sound very unlikely based on the wealth of wildlife material that has been captured on film to date. It must however be considered that most wildlife documentary topics are being redone in High Definition (HD) to showcase the technological advancements in video equipment.
YouTube is also frequented by millions of visitors on a daily basis who search for a magnitude of topics which include wildlife subjects. In many cases YouTube, which is freely accessible, is the chosen source of video viewing. The fact that YouTube is owned by Google and is presently the third most popular website in the world is testament to its success as a social media platform.
The power in sharing information of social media could make the difference in the fight against ignorance and apathy which could destroy the environment as we know it. The time to act in favour of nature conservation is now before it is too late. The only way to save the Rhino from imminent extinction is by applying pressure on those who contribute to their demise.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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