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
Meet some of the characters
On trail in the wilderness
Discussions in the wilderness
Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador meets rhino
Brainstorming ideas to help save the rhino
Wild Rhino Ambassadors meet the OATers
The campaign grows
Students meet Rhino Ranger
Students using Rhino Ranger face masks
Rhino Ranger educates students
For further information on the work of Rhino Hero please visit www.wildrhino.org