The Wild Rhino demand reduction campaign aims to educate and engage Vietnamese youth on the issue of rhino poaching as part of the Rhino Protection Programme. It is an initiative implemented by Wilderness Foundation Africa, in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy, and recently also supported by the Olsen Animal Trust.
The project has three integrated components:
- Wild Rhino Competition
- Youth Ambassador Awareness and Education Campaign, and
- Rhino Ranger Super Hero Campaign.
Since the 2014 launch of the first Wild Rhino Competition in 11 participating private/international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, the campaign has reached about 25 000 Vietnamese youth directly, and nearly 1 million youth indirectly, through campaign and youth ambassador social media activities. As from 2018, the campaign has also rolled out to two schools in Hanoi.
Wild Rhino Competition
The Wild Rhino Competition invites the youth to engage with the topic of rhino protection through drawings and essays. Winners of the senior essay competition are then brought to South Africa to learn about rhino, conservation and species protection first-hand. Besides attending the wilderness trail, the students spent time with rhino calves orphaned as a result of poaching, and also participated in educational workshops facilitated by the Wilderness Foundation. Inspired by what they experienced and learnt, these young people then return to Vietnam as true Rhino Youth Ambassadors for the cause.
Youth Ambassador Campaign
The Vietnam, be my hero youth ambassador component calls on these 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, and continuously pushed on social media. The campaign is built on the premise of peer-education and engagement, and the Rhino Youth Ambassadors play a leading role as role models and faces of the campaign – speak first-hand about the pertinent issues and offering credible and age-appropriate messaging to the campaign. The campaign roll-out and activities are coordinated from a local project office established in Ho Chi Minh City in 2015.
Rhino Ranger Super Hero
The Rhino Ranger campaign mascot serves as an age-appropriate conduit through which to deliver demand reduction messaging to Vietnamese youth using his own comic strip, comic book, action figure and social media campaigns. Rhino Ranger visits schools and reaches out to the youth during through various interactive activities. Two editions of the Rhino Ranger Comic book has been launched and can be downloaded online.
In order to reach an even younger audience, a rhino and conservation education activity and colouring book was launched in 2018.