Wild Rhino Demand Reduction Campaign
Wildlife crime is decimating wildlife populations worldwide. In Africa iconic wildlife species including elephant, rhino, lion and pangolin are being lost at an alarming rate and threatening the very existence of Africa’s protected areas where ecotourism makes an important contribution to economic growth. The increasing 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 70% of these rhinos found in South Africa.
If the current poaching rate for 2017 continues it is possible that this year will see more rhino being killed than are being born, and if this trend continues then it is possible that by 2025 all rhino in the wild could be extinct. The demand for rhino horn in Asian countries remains one of the main driving forces behind the escalation in poaching of rhino in Southern Africa, with more than 80% of illegally trafficked rhino horn passing through Vietnam either for local use or for export to other countries.
In response to this, Wilderness Foundation Africa joined forces with Peace Parks Foundation, Olsen Animal Trust and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy to research, develop and implement a youth awareness and engagement campaign aimed at reducing the use of and demand for rhino horn in Vietnam.
The Wild Rhino demand reduction campaign utilizes three separate yet cohesive components to educate and engage Vietnamese youth on the issue of rhino poaching. The overarching goal of these components, namely the Wild Rhino Competition, the Youth Ambassador Awareness and Education Campaign, and the Rhino Ranger Super Hero Campaign, is to incite passion for conservation, whilst motivating these young people not to use rhino horn. In addition, they are encouraged to assist in saving the rhino by becoming vocal ambassadors for the cause in their communities. The demand reduction campaign, which has been active in 11 participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City since the launch of the first Wild Rhino Competition in 2014, has reached about 15 000 Vietnamese youth directly, and nearly 1 million youth indirectly through campaign and youth ambassador social media activities.
2014 | 1st Wild Rhino Competition
A first phase of the campaign, that was launched in 2014, saw 15 000 Vietnamese youth from participating international schools in Ho Chi Minh City introduced to the crisis of rhino poaching and invited to enter a competition to win a rhino conservation experience in South Africa. The 22 senior students who submitted the most substantial essays on the topic of rhino conservation, were chosen as winners and visited South Africa in June 2015, spending a week on wilderness walking trails in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.
Through this competition, 1 056 junior entries were received, comprising of either pictures or poems on the rhino poaching crisis. The Senior competition comprised of an essay on how they would educate friends and family on the rhino poaching crisis, of which we received 307 entries. (Learn more about this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48csW1oEY9c)
2015 | 1st Vietnamese Youth Trail
The purpose of the Vietnamese Youth Trail is to nurture awareness, insight, empathy and understanding - allowing these young students to return home as dedicated and informed emissaries for conservation and rhino protection. (Learn more about their journey here https://youtu.be/3l5ph6VU9Uw). Besides attending a 5 day wilderness trail, the students spent time with rhino calves orphaned as a result of poaching, and also participated in educational workshops facilitated by Wilderness Foundation Africa where they were educated on the reality of the rhino poaching crisis through presentations by specialists in the field.
The impact of this experience on the young Vietnamese exceeded expectations and they departed South Africa as anointed Rhino Youth Ambassadors - with new insight into the plight of the rhino, and passion for the protection of this iconic species. Inspired, and armed with the facts, these young people have gone on to actively engage their communities with powerful messages to stop using rhino horn. Their messaging and actions were received very well by their communities and the local media.
(Learn more about the Vietnamese Youth Trails at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFRApoHC2Ao and www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j_31vxGZNs.
2016 | Youth Ambassador & Superhero Campaigns
In order to build on the success of the first engagement with Vietnamese youth, WFA and PPF initiated a second phase of demand reduction efforts. The project is called Vietnam, Be my Hero and encompasses two major components:
Youth Ambassador Campaign
The Youth Ambassador campaign launched in Vietnam in May 2016. Material such as posters, decals, brochures, etc. was developed utilizing personal messages from each of the 22 Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors . These young rhino ambassadors play a leading role in this campaign as peer educators, role models and faces of the campaign. Having visited South Africa and interacted with rhinos, they can speak first-hand about the pertinent issues – thus offering credibility and age-appropriate messaging to the campaign.
A super hero character, Rhino Ranger, was launched in Vietnam on World Rhino Day on 22 September 2016.
Rhino Ranger will be the driving force behind bringing a stop to all the false beliefs around rhino horn.
Through the use of a variety of marketing materials, from face masks and magnets to Rhino Ranger cut-outs and pin-on badges, as well as a comic book, Rhino Ranger is working his way into the hearts of the youth in Vietnam to help save the rhino. (Learn more about the Youth Ambassador and SuperHero campaigns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm0zOGeAMss)
2017 | 2nd Wild Rhino Competition
The 2nd Wild Rhino Competition was launched in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2016. Nearly 1 000 entries were received and the senior winners of the competition attended a Vietnamese Youth Trail in South Africa in July 2017, whereafter they returned to Vietnam as the next group of Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors.
2017 | 2nd Vietnamese Youth Trail
“The stories of the rhinos are ones that connect the past, the present, and the future. Let them be heard.” - Phan le Ha Long (Peter), Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador
In July 2017, 11 young people from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, were brought to South Africa for a life-changing wilderness experience as part of the Wild Rhino Campaign. After the trail, the youth visited a rhino orphanage and also had the opportunity to learn more from leading wildlife crime, rhino veterinary and rhino protection experts during a full day workshop at the Wilderness Leadership School in Durban. The young people were deeply touched by what they saw and learnt, and have returned to Vietnam as Rhino Ambassadors – committed to making a difference in changing the hearts and minds of their communities.
In speaking to the youth recently, they shared that their families and friends were amazed at the stories they had to tell on their return to Vietnam, and absolutely horrified to learn about the violent manner in which rhino were being maimed and killed. Already, many of the rhino horn consumers that they have shared their new-found knowledge and insights with, have been inspired to stop this practice and support the protection of the rhino as an integral part of functioning ecosystems.
“Never doubt your ability to make positive changes for the crisis. It will only be too late when we give up.” – Chang Nam (Jay), Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador. (Learn more about the trail at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTZOPYPM3m4)
- Wilderness Foundation Africa
- +44 (0)20 7357 7474
Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative
"Every 8 hours, another rhino is killed in South Africa...and the number is growing"
Follow the link below to download more information about the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.