Andrew Muir, CEO Wilderness Fdn Africa
Rhino Hero Campaign
The demand for rhino horn in Asian countries has been identified as one of the main driving forces for the escalating poaching of rhinos, with over 80% of poached rhino horn either passing through, or ending up in, Vietnam.
As part of The Wilderness Foundation's demand-reduction initiative, they joined forces with Peace Parks Foundation to research, develop and implement a youth awareness and engagement campaign aimed at reducing the use of, and demand for, rhino horn in Vietnam.
With a potential reach to over 500,000 Vietnamese youth, the first phase of the campaign took place in 2014 when the Wild Rhino Competition saw 15,000 Vietnamese students, from 12 international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, introduced to the rhino poaching crisis. They were invited to enter an essay competition on the subject and the top 22 students who submitted the most impressive essays on rhino conservation, became designated Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors and were invited to South Africa to participate in a conservation education programme.
Their trip included a week on the Wilderness Walking Trail in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve and a full day's workshop to nurture awareness, insight, empathy and understanding of the rhino poaching problem. This allowed these young students to return home as dedicated and informed emissaries for conservation and rhino protection. They continue to be provided with further hands-on support and marketing materials in Vietnam, to enable them to carry out their ambassadorial duties and thus contribute to the demand-reduction programme.
In addition to the overall initiative and as a direct result of the campaign, a further Super Hero campaign was developed and is now in full operation. Rhino Ranger is a comic book character who aims to be the driving force behind dispelling all the false beliefs surrounding rhino horn. The Rhino Ranger book has been released and distributed to 11 schools participating in the programme, along with a variety of marketing materials, from face masks and magnets, to Rhino Ranger cut-outs and pin-on badges. "Rhino Ranger" also makes regular public appearances to educate and inspire children and the public at large.
To find out more watch this short film about this amazing initiative. Click here.
How the Rhino Hero Programme works
Wild Rhino Competition
Vietnamese students from 12 international schools in Ho Chi Minh City are invited to enter an essay writing competition to become Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors. 22 senior students who submit the most impressive essays on the topic of rhino conservation are chosen as winners and travel to South Africa to learn first-hand about the rhino poaching crisis. During their trip, the students visit a rhino orphanage, see wild rhinos in their natural habitat as well as other indigenous wildlife, and attend educational workshops
Youth Ambassador Campaign
Returning from their experiences, the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors play a leading role as peer group educators, role models and faces of the campaign. Materials, such as posters, decals and brochures, are developed based on their personal experiences and are used to spread their important message nationwide
Super Hero Campaign
The Rhino Ranger comic book super hero aims to be the driving force behind dispelling all the false beliefs around rhino horn and aims to educate younger children about the plight of the rhino
How Olsen Animal Trust helps
OAT are a significant partner in the overall demand-reduction programme and have committed to supporting it for the next four years. This will enable the programme to build capacity so that even more students can become Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors
Project Images - hover over for details
On trail in the wilderness
Carefully-selected Vietnamese students who have become Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors are taken on a 5 day wilderness camping trail to experience rhino in the wild. They spend time out in the bush tracking the rhinos and other indigenous animals. In 2017 our OATOKE joined one of the ambassador groups on this journey.
Discussions in the wilderness
An “Indaba” is held every day on trail, where the group discusses their experiences of the day and how this has impacted them. This prepares them for the workshops at the end of their trip.
Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador meets rhino
After attending a 5 day wilderness trail, Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador, Catherine Tran, was privileged to meet a rhino orphan who lost her mum to poachers.
Brainstorming ideas to help save the rhino
After spending 5 days on a wilderness trail, the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors attend a workshop where they listen to presentations on the rhino poaching crisis. After listening to experts in the field of rhino protection, the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors brainstorm ideas as to how they can help spread the message in Vietnam.
Wild Rhino Ambassadors meet the OATers
Here the Olsen's and Dave, aka OATOKE, met some of the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors. These young students feature strongly in messaging materials provided to 15,000 students in Ho Chi Minh City schools which participate in the Rhino Youth Campaign.
The campaign grows
A campaign was developed using the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors, where excerpts from their essays were used on posters, brochures, decals, hanging mobiles, and were included in various social media campaigns to encourage Vietnam to help save the rhino.
Students meet Rhino Ranger
Rhino Ranger regularly visits participating schools to spread the message: “Vietnam Be My Hero”. Here he is seen with children from the American International School, where he handed out the Rhino Ranger comic book to the students.
Students using Rhino Ranger face masks
The students love using and sharing the Rhino Ranger products that have been developed, especially the Rhino Ranger face masks and fridge magnets. Students are encouraged to share these products in order to create greater awareness of the rhino poaching crisis. Modelled beautifully here by Nicola Olsen!
Rhino Ranger educates students
Rhino Ranger meets various groups of students of all ages. Here he is at the Singapore International School where he asked them to tell their friends and family that rhino horn has no value, expect on the rhino.
For further information on the work of Rhino Hero please visit www.wildrhino.org