WILDERNESS AWAKENS RHINO AMBASSADORS

WILDERNESS AWAKENS RHINO AMBASSADORS

Every two years students from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam travel to South Africa to embark on, what they call, a life-changing experience. Aged between 14 and 17, most of these children live in cities that are completely disconnected from the natural world.

Wilderness Foundation Africa, in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, Olsen Animal Trust and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy, launched the Wild Rhino Demand Reduction Campaign in 2014 to research, develop and implement a youth awareness and engagement programme to reduce the use of and demand for rhino horn in Vietnam. Matthew Norval, Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Chief Operations Officer says, “the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam is one of the main drivers of rhino poaching. Initially, we worked with South African agencies to develop awareness products that we could distribute in Vietnam, but we quickly realised that because the use of wildlife products stems from deep-seated cultural beliefs, we needed to work with the Vietnamese to develop solutions that would be culturally relevant and accepted.”

Working with 11 international schools in Ho Chi Minh City and three in Hanoi, the Wild Rhino Demand Reduction Campaign runs a competition every two years in which entrants can win a trip to South Africa to partake in a true wilderness experience. The purpose of this is to nurture awareness, insight, empathy and understanding, allowing these young students to return home as dedicated and informed ambassadors for conservation and rhino protection. At the same time, this exchange encourages communication between those who are exposed to friends or family members using products such as rhino horn and conservation experts who are working to stop the illegal trafficking of wildlife products.

This year, junior students were invited to enter either a poem or a picture, while seniors wrote essays presenting innovative and practical plans to educate their friends and families on how to end the demand for rhino horn. “Upon entering the competition, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would win. When I did, I was torn between accepting the prize and going on this amazing adventure, or turning it down and focusing on my schoolwork. My father motivated me to accept, saying it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am so happy I did!” said Tran Thy Uyên My, a student from the Asian International School in Hanoi.

The students embarked on a five-day hike in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province which took them deep into the African wilderness, without any technology to distract them. Tran says, “My friends all said that they would die if they had to be without their phones and access to the Internet for that long!”

Ian Read, a wilderness Leadership School guide, says that it was a truly humbling experience to see the children connect to their natural environment. “In a way, you could see them completely disconnecting from the modern world while finding a deep sense of belonging in a place that is far removed from where they grew up.”

Upon returning from their wilderness trail adventure, students took part in a two-day workshop to explore how they would embrace their task as rhino ambassadors. A moving presentation by wildlife veterinarian, Dr William Fowlds, gave students a glimpse into the realities of poaching, showing both the brutality of the act of killing a rhino and the passion of those who are deeply committed to saving them. Students were cautioned not to accept responsibility for those who consumed rhino products. Read said, “What you see here does not belong to you. It is not your fault. Don’t go home with fear and anger, those are the tactics used by those who harm rhino. We fight this with what you gained in your hearts over the last few days. Hold on to that.”

On their final morning together, students were invited to present their ideas to the group. Norval motivated them to think big while keeping in mind that they would be responsible for implementing ideas that were accepted. The students brought to the table some strong ideas, from big music concerts and engaging with religious organisations that prescribed rhino horn powder to followers, to inexpensive social media campaigns that would target youngsters within their age groups. As part of the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador component of the campaign, the young people will be supported to pursue some of these ideas in their schools and communities.

Most noticeable was the enthusiasm with which they embraced their new-found mission to save the rhino. “Poaching rhino is destroying our planet and us humans. Preserving rhino is our responsibility. Not tomorrow, today is the time to save rhinos.” says Le Duong Minh Ha.

Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador, Haryoung Cho, was recently invited to take part in a TEDx @ Hanoi event

Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador, Haryoung Cho, was recently invited to take part in a TEDx @ Hanoi event

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.

The Wild Rhino | Vietnam, Be my Hero campaign has been implemented in Vietnam since 2014 by Wilderness Foundation Africa in order to address this issue.  Part of this campaign includes developing school-going children from Vietnam to become Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors.  These ambassadors play an active role in their communities in telling the story of rhino poaching and changing the mindset of those around them towards environmental issues, specifically wildlife crime.

Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador, Haryoung Cho, was recently invited to take part in a TEDx @ Hanoi event at the United Nations International School Hanoi, Vietnam. In her TEDx talk, Haryoung Cho used her own experience as a Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador to introduce how the issue of rhino poaching is not just an environmental issue, but how it is also a human issue that everyone should be aware of and should be caring for more actively.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

The Wild Rhino | Vietnam, be my hero campaign is implemented by Wilderness Foundation Africa and supported by Peace Parks Foundation, Olsen Animal Trust and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy.

VIETNAMESE YOUTH COMPETITION WINNERS TO HELP RHINO

VIETNAMESE YOUTH COMPETITION WINNERS TO HELP RHINO

I have always loved the beauty of wildlife. The complexity of the ecosystem, the biological difference in different species, and how every living organism is interconnected; independent yet dependent on others at the same time. South Africa, one of the largest Rhino paradises is now the major slaughterhouses for Rhino in the world, and shamefully, Vietnam ranks first on the Rhino horns purchase list higher than China. As youth, it is unfair that we have to be responsible for the damages adults caused in the past few decades, and it’s our generation’s turn to care.  Announce to the world that:

It is not too late to educate ourselves with the topic of environmental issues.

It is not too late to recognize the importance of ecosystems.

It is not too late to take action on the mission of environmental protection.

It is not too late to stop or reduce the purchase of Rhino horns.

Don’t wait until it is too late.  If the adults can’t take action on global issues, then it will be our chance. As youth, take initiative, we could do more than you expect, prove it to them”.

These are the words of a young Vietnamese student,  Lee Ming-Ching, written after being announced as one of the winners of the 2019 Wild Rhino competition. Increasingly, the next generation of decision-makers in Vietnam seek to learn more about, and speak up against, environmental crimes such as rhino poaching. The Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative – a collaboration between Wilderness Foundation Africa (WFA), Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), Olsen Animal Trust (OAT) and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy (SOUL) in Vietnam – is providing these young people with educational and social platforms to do just that.

This week, Wilderness Foundation Africa announced the winners of the Wild Rhino Competition run in collaboration with 11 international schools in Ho Chi Minh City, and 3 international schools in Hanoi, Vietnam.  As part of their prize, 14 of the winners will soon be travelling to South Africa to experience rhino in their natural habitat.

The demand for rhino horn in Asian countries remains one of the main driving forces behind the escalation in poaching of rhinos 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, such as China.

In response to this, 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, the youth are encouraged to assist in saving the rhino by becoming vocal ambassadors for the cause in their communities. The demand reduction campaign, has been active in 11 participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City since the launch of the first Wild Rhino Competition in 2014, and was extended to 3 schools in Hanoi this year. Through the full complement of engagements, Wild Rhino has reached about 25 000 Vietnamese youth directly, and nearly 1 million youth indirectly through campaign and youth ambassador social media activities.

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 present innovative and practical ways in which  they could  educate their friends and family on how to end the demand for rhino horn.

Over 700 entries were received, with 29 junior winners and 14 senior winners announced.  The senior winners will visit South Africa in July 2019, where they will spend a week on wilderness walking trails in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HIP) to gain an understanding of the importance of rhino and the impact that poaching is having on them, 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, the campaign partners take the opportunity to learn from the young people about their experience of the issues related to the use of rhino horn in their communities. The Vietnamese youth also share insights into social and scholastic habits of themselves and their peers, enabling development and implementation of impactful strategies in terms of Wild Rhino engagement with this audience moving forward.

The senior winners are as follows:

HANOI
Nguyễn Đức Tuấn of the British International School, Hanoi
Nguyễn Viết Trường An of the Hanoi International School

HO CHI MINH CITY
Nguyễn Cao Quỳnh Anh & Trương Bá Tùng of the ABC International School
Đào Quang Nam Anh & Trần Thy Uyên My of the Asian International School
Phạm Châu Giang & Trần Đỗ Minh Khôi of the American International School
Lê Dương Minh Hà & Lee Ming-Ching of the Canadian International Schoool
Juliet Bảo Ngọc Doling & Phan Lê Minh An of the Renaissance International School
Lee Jiseung of the International School of HCMC
Liễu Ngọc Bảo Than of the American School

This upcoming trip to South Africa will begin a new change, a new perspective aside from my daily life, to unite as one perceiving the nature and the deserved wild animals with my very own eyes.  In the future, together with other [previous years’] Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors, and the Wild Rhino Campaign, we will use our experiences and strengths to raise awareness in our community and aim to make a change in the citizens’ mindsets, activities and responsibilities in protecting the rhinos and the wild with which we have been gifted.”  Lieu Ngoc Bao Thanh,  Senior Winner of the Wild Rhino Competition.

Junior and Senior winners from the Hanoi International School in Vietnam receive their prizes from superhero Rhino Ranger and Thu Hyunh, staff member of Wilderness Foundation Africa in Vietnam.

Superhero Rhino Ranger spent time posing for photographs with children of the Singapore International School @ Gamuda Gardens in Hanoi after handing out prizes to the Wild Rhino Competition winners.

Competition winners from the British International School in Hanoi receiving their prizes from superhero Rhino Ranger.

A winning entry received Thai Duong Khue of The American School, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Wild Rhino Competition 2019 Winners Announced

Wild Rhino Competition 2019 Winners Announced

Wild Rhino would like to thank the youth of Vietnam for their innovative ideas and congratulate the 29 Juniors and 14 Seniors that made it through in the competition!! Junior winners will receive a special Wild Rhino hamper and Seniors win a wilderness trail and workshop to become the new Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors all the way in South Africa!!

See the winners table below:

School Grade Winner
The ABC International School         Junior Ham Rahee
Jang Seong Min (Brian)
Duong Nguyen Anh
Phan Le Trang Vi
Senior Nguyen Cao Quynh Anh (Sarah)
Truong Ba Tung
The Asian International School        Junior Le Anh Khoi (Peter)
Nguyen Hong Minh Chau (Cindy)
Nguyen Le Cat Quyen
Nguyen Phuong Thao
Pham Tran Vinh Nguyen
Cao Tran Nhat Ha (Alice)
Senior Dao Quang Nam Anh
Tran Thy Uyen My (Mary)
American International School    Junior Le Anh Minh
Nguyen Linh Phuong (Merc)
Senior Pham Chau Giang (Elsa)
Tran Do Minh Khoi (Mike)
Australian International School Junior Arutina Kateryna
Wong Shun Ying (Angus)
Khang Dang Ngoc Linh (Sofia)
Bilingual Canadian International School Junior Phan Quoc Thinh (Donald)
Scherz Tuan (Denis)
British International School Hanoi Junior Cho Won Ho (Jack)
Senior Nguyen Duc Tuan
Canadian International School Junior La Le Quynh Anh (Elsa)
Dang Nguyen Khang (Kyle)
Senior Le Duong Minh Ha
Lee Ming Ching (Valison)
Hanoi International School Senior Nguyen Viet Truong An
International School of Ho Chi Minh City Junior Bui Minh Tri (Tony)
Senior Lee Jiseung (Joseph)
Renaissance International School Saigon Junior  Nguyen An Truc (Pippi)
Yeom Minah
Senior Phan Le Minh An
Doling Bao Ngoc Juliet
Singapore International School @ Gamuda Gardens  Junior Jee Hyun
Nguyen Thi Yen Ngoc (Elina)
Saigon South International School Junior Vo Phuong Anh
Yang Zirui (Dan)
The American School (TAS) Junior Tran Y Nhi (Bella)
Thai Duong Khue (Jasmine)
Senior Lieu Ngoc Bao Thanh (Jenny)
World Rhino Day Celebrated In Vietnam

World Rhino Day Celebrated In Vietnam

Wilderness Foundation Africa hosted an event at the Asian International School in Ho Chi Minh city on 19 September week to commemorate World Rhino Day 2018.

A group consisting of 300 school children, dignitaries and partners of the Wild Rhino | Vietnam, be my Hero campaign stood together to celebrate the existence of rhino, recognize the conservation efforts to protect this magnificent species and to highlight the campaign vision to stop the demand for rhino horn.

During proceedings, guests assisted with positioning pieces of a puzzle together, symbolizing the commitment of people from Vietnam and South Africa working together to stop the demand for rhino horn. The act of putting together this life-size puzzle of a rhino with the messaging DON’T USE RHINO HORN was filmed by a drone and the material will be disseminated via social media platforms, with the intent of reaching not only the Vietnamese market, but the world. 

Mr Matthew Norval and Ms Cheryl Reynolds of Wilderness Foundation Africa were in Vietnam for 10 days in order to launch the 3rd phase of the popular Wild Rhino competition at 15 participating schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as to host a seminar at Hoa Sen University of Saturday, 22 September 2018 on Demand Reduction of Wildlife Products.  With close to 200 university students attending the seminar and viewing a wildlife exhibition, the message of the urgency of protecting rhino and elephant will be imparted in the mind of these students.

Ms Almut Roessner, Executive Director of EuroCHAM, and Mr Thanh Bui, CEO of SOUL Corporation positioning the final piece of the rhino puzzle.

Ms Almut Roessner, Executive Director of EuroCHAM, and Mr Thanh Bui, CEO of SOUL Corporation positioning the final piece of the rhino puzzle.

Mr Matthew Norval, Mr Thanh Bui, Rhino Ranger, Peter le ha Long, Ms Cheryl Reynolds and Ms Almut Roessner

Mr Matthew Norval, Mr Thanh Bui, Rhino Ranger, Peter le ha Long, Ms Cheryl Reynolds and Ms Almut Roessner

Mr Matthew Norval, COO of Wilderness Foundation Africa with a student from The Asian International School

Mr Matthew Norval, COO of Wilderness Foundation Africa with a student from The Asian International School

World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day 2018