A taste of life in the African bush showed a group of Hong Kong and Asian students the importance of protecting nature. Six Hong Kong delegates, aged from 16 to 18, joined 35 students from other Asian nations on an environmental protection programme at the Lapalala Wilderness School in South Africa. Lapalala is a 26,400 hectare game reserve with a mission to save endangered white and black rhinos. The wilderness experience was co-organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and Cathay Pacific. Simon Au Yeung Kim-nam, 18, a Form Seven student at Wah Yan College, said he wanted to learn more about environmental protection work in South Africa because Lapalala was an unspoilt wilderness. 'I was happy to have a chance to be close to nature and see many different kinds of wild animals,' said Kim-nam, who is a Friends of the Earth volunteer. 'After the tour, I knew that we should save the resources given by the Earth and I must tell the public, especially my family and friends, to protect wild animals and not use products which are tested on animals.' Kanice Ho Sze-kan, 16, in Form Five at Methodist College, said her consciousness of environmental protection had been enhanced by the 10-day trip to South Africa. 'I feel we should stay close to nature and must not damage the environment.' She said the trip had encouraged her to join an environmental organisation and she also planned to establish an environmental protection club at her school. Eva Tseung, youth exchange officer of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said the trip gave students a chance to learn about wildlife by observing animals such as rhino, hippo and warthog. They also learned about how different plants were used. These experiences gave them greater awareness of the ecosystem and the interdependence of man and nature. Apart from learning about nature on the course, the students also had cultural exchanges with fellow participants, she said.' 'The cultural activities enhanced the Hong Kong students' understanding of different cultures and got them to reflect on the development of their own traditional culture.' Charmaine Lau Kar-mun, 17, a Form Six student at Immaculate Heart of Mary College, said her experience in South Africa made her feel closer to nature and showed her the importance of protecting it. 'I will continue to join in more activities to help protect the environment, especially afforestation activities, and make the public aware of the need to protect nature.'