Wildlife crime is decimating Africa’s iconic species of elephant, rhino, lion and leopard and threatening the very existence of Africa’s protected areas. The alarming rise in rhino poaching stands at the forefront of this wildlife crime crisis. Currently approximately 4 800 black and 20 000 white rhino are fighting for their survival in the wild, with more than 80% of these rhinos found in South Africa.
Wilderness Foundation Africa acknowledges that on ground support, public awareness and increased security will not succeed in the long term to solve the rhino poaching crises if the reduction for the demand of rhino horn from the user countries is not addressed. With the knowledge that 90% of poached rhino horn goes to Vietnam, which is a key user country, Wilderness Foundation Africa launched a rhino horn demand reduction campaign in October 2014, aimed at reaching the youth in the top 12 international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Through the first project, Wild Rhino Competition, 15 000 Vietnamese youth were reached, with close to 1 400 young people entering the competition in order to win a trip to South Africa.After an intense judging process, 22 students were selected to visit South Africa, where they were taken to iMfolozi Game Reserve to do a 5 day traditional wilderness trail facilitated by the Wilderness Leadership School.On conclusion of the trail, the youth visited the bomas in the reserve to learn about the impact of the problem on orphaned rhino calves, and then attended a 1 day workshop where they were exposed to the full extent of rhino poaching.
The outcome of this was that these young people, inspired by what they had seen and experience, contributed to the development of practical ideas for demand reduction that could be implemented in their schools and communities in Vietnam. They left South Africa as true Forever Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors.
Partnering with Peace Parks Foundation and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy, Wilderness Foundation Africa launched the next phase of the demand reduction campaign in Ho Chi Minh City in May 2016.
The Vietnam, be my Hero campaign calls on young Vietnamese to be superheroes and speak out against the use of rhino horn. It involves professional visual education messaging presented on a variety of posters, decals, leaflets and associated materials that is distributed and installed throughout the schools, at events, in printed publications, on the project web site (www.wildrhino.org), and continuously pushed on social media.
Representatives from Wilderness Foundation Africa, Peace Parks Foundation and Boomtown Advertising travelled to Vietnam in May 2016 to introduce Vietnam, be my Hero to the schools. We were met with great excitement by all the schools visited, and a sincere commitment by teachers and students to contribute and engage with the campaign.
The 22 young rhino ambassadors from the 2015 Wild Rhino Competition are playing a leading role in this campaign as peer educators, role models and the familiar faces of the campaign. Having visited South Africa and interacted with rhinos, they can speak first-hand about the relevant rhino issues, thus offering credibility and age-appropriate messaging to the campaign.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
The Vietnam, be my Hero campaign has been incredibly successful in engaging the youth of Vietnam. Our social media campaign, comprising of the Wild Rhino website, Facebook page and Instagram account has had significant reach in a short space of time.
In order to ensure that this campaign reaches as many people as possible on a global scale, we need your help in sharing and encouraging your networks to join the campaign. We ask that, as partners of Wilderness Foundation Africa, you share the links below and encourage people to help us save the rhino.
Website | www.wildrhino.org
Facebook | www.facebook.com/wildrhinovietnam
Instagram | wildrhino.vietnambemyhero