I think that buying rhino horns just to show others that you are rich is unreasonable, It infuriates me that the world has to sacrifice rhinos just for a group of people wanting to basically show off their money.” These are the words of a young Vietnamese girl as written in a prize winning essay in the 2017 Wild Rhino competition.

More and more, the next generation of decision-makers in Vietnam seek to speak up against environmental crimes such as rhino poaching, and a collaboration between Wilderness Foundation Africa (WFA), Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy (SOUL) in Vietnam, is providing them with educational and social platforms to do just that.

This year’s Wild Rhino competition invited junior students to enter by submitting a poem or a picture. Senior students entered by submitting an essay in which they had to respond to questions such as: “What would you say to stop someone from buying rhino horn?”; “What impact would it have if rhino became extinct?”; “What are the biggest myths about rhino horn, and how can you change it?”; and “How are you going to make a difference?”.

Nearly 1000 entries were received, with 22 junior winners and 11 senior winners announced. The senior winners will visit South Africa in July 2017, where they will spend a week on wilderness walking trails in the iMfolozi Game Reserve, followed by a workshop on the rhino poaching crisis facilitated by experts in conservation. This workshop equips the youngsters to return to Vietnam as dedicated ambassadors for the conservation and protection of rhino. In turn, it provides an opportunity for the campaign partners to learn about the social and scholastic habits of Vietnamese youth, enabling development and implementation of impactful strategies moving forward.