Earth Touch Tented Camp Kirsten Horne Sarah Lustig 2014 09 26
Earth Touch Producer, Kirsten Horne hard at work in the team's makeshift tented office at the World Youth Rhino Summit.

The Earth Touch team is back on home turf after covering the first-ever World Youth Rhino Summit (more on that here). The event was all about learning, debate, discussion and sharing ideas – all in the name of rhino conservation. But for our crew, immersing themselves in a cause so close to their hearts was also pretty emotionally draining. Our team producer Kirsten Horne looks back on the tears, lessons and intense moments.  

It's been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride for the Earth Touch team.

The World Youth Rhino Summit reduced all of us to tears at the strangest moments. And the tears were triggered by so many different things. Yes, we were stressed. Yes, we were working 15 hours a day. But it was definitely more than that.  

Even our cameraman had his moment, when our video featuring the 30 Seconds to Mars soundtrack played for the summit delegates. He was a mess (it might also have had something to do with the fact that he'd edited the video and was happy it was finally out of his hair ... but I don't think so). And his lip was definitely quivering during a speech by wildlife veterinarian Will Fowlds. And at the surprise arrival of renowned conservationist Dr Ian Player.

“The World Youth Rhino Summit reduced all of us to tears at the strangest moments.”

Our assistant producer Sarah turned on the waterworks more than once. During a speech by conservationist Paula Kahumbu. Then during our interview with Paula. Then while looking at baby rhinos orphaned by poaching (she cries a lot, actually, now that I think about it.).

The only person who put on a brave, stoic demeanour was our sound guy, SK. But I think he wears his sunglasses indoors for a reason.

poaching chase-2014-9-20
Delegates at the summit got to witness an anti-poaching demonstration. Image: Caio Da Rocha & Michaela Sørensen

For me, the tears came during an anti-poaching demonstration put on for the delegates. When a helicopter came thundering over us with such speed and urgency I was overcome with emotion. It suddenly hit me that these amazing human beings – these real-life heroes – were willing to risk everything to save just a single rhino in danger. It's truly extraordinary. 

I also had the privilege of spending time with one particular rhino in a boma (enclosure) during my time at the summit. I was alone with her and we just kind of hung out together.  How beautiful is she? And calm too (the other rhino in the enclosure kept showing me its butt, but this one was perfectly serene). You can see how aware she was of my presence. She was probably just curious, but I like to think we had a moment, this rhino and me. 

I have immense gratitude for the organisers of this summit. They are some of the most dedicated and passionate human beings I have ever met – they'll do just about everything in their power to stop the cruelty that is the illegal wildlife trade. What they have achieved at the summit is absolutely mind-blowing.

So many people do care about our wildlife. And seeing just how much they care has been profoundly moving for all of us.

Top header image: Valentina Storti, Flickr