Earlier this month, the Environment, Geographical and Scientific Societies jointly hosted Dr Michael Slattery who gave a talk in Queen’s Schools to an audience of both Eton boys and students from local partnership schools; Holyport, Windsor Girls’, Windsor Boys’, St Joseph’s and St Mary’s, Ascot. An expert in rhino conservation, Dr Slattery is the founder of the Texas Christian University (TCU) Rhino initiative – a university run program focused on preserving rhino populations.

Dr Slattery started his talk by outlining the problem at hand. By referencing recent figures, he showed that rhino populations have been steadily decreasing, with more and more poaching each year. Over the last decade, 9885 rhinos have been lost to poaching. The Kruger National Park in South Africa has seen a 75% decrease in rhino populations since 2012. He explained that the recent rise in numbers is due to increased demand of rhino horns – a highly prized commodity in countries such as Vietnam, despite the fact that the horn is made of the same material as our own nails.

Dr Slattery went on to talk about the TCU initiative, and the strategies they are implementing in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. He showed videos of their trip to the Amakhala Game Reserve, where they darted a rhino before performing surgery on it. Finally, Dr Slattery wrapped up with some of his top tips for rhino conservation. In particular, he stressed the importance of education, so that young people do not get drawn into the illegal poaching industry. Following the talk, there were some great questions asked by the audience, which were all brilliantly answered by Dr Slattery. Last, but certainly not least, some lucky students were able to have a go on Dr Slattery’s VR headset and experience some great visuals of the African wilderness.