Today marks the 10th Annual Endangered Species Day in the United States. Various events taking place at zoos, aquariums, schools and protected areas across the country will recognize our national conservation efforts to protect America’s endangered species and their habitats. While the awareness events are domestic in nature, they also serve as worthwhile opportunities to bring attention to the heart-wrenching wildlife poaching and trafficking epidemic that is truly a global battle. Last year, over 1,200 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone. The western black rhino was declared extinct in 2013 and there is only one remaining male African white rhino. This estimated $20-billion-a-year market encompasses much more than rhinos and extends well beyond South Africa. According to a recent Washington Post article, there are less than 3,200 tigers in the wild; while over 100 million sharks are killed annually (shark fins are a delicacy used in soup throughout Asia).
In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Meridian International Center administered the Study of U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders for Public Policy and Government Leadership (SUSI) in the summer of 2013. The program was a combination of leadership training, cultural exchange, and rigorous classes designed to give participants a better understanding of the United States, as well as transform them into more effective and successful leaders.