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.
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
Vietnam is the worlds largest recipient of illegal rhino horn from South Africa. To reduce rhino horn consumption and therefore demand, Wilderness Foundation Africa is working with school-going Vietnamese youngsters to create a generation of ambassadors who will grow up to be in a position to influence their peers, parents and families to reduce and ultimately stop the demand for rhino horn.
Building on the campaign developed in 2015, Rhino Ranger returns this month with a second edition of the popular Rhino Ranger Comic book targeted at teenagers, as well as an exciting new product, a Rhino Ranger Activity book for the younger market. Rhino Ranger is a superhero character who was launched on World Rhino Day in 2016 to spread the message of the “Wild Rhino | Vietnam, be my Hero” campaign to the target audience in Vietnam and is the driving force behind bringing a stop to the use and misinformation around rhino horn.
In the second edition of the Comic book, Rhino Ranger travels to Vietnam to discover why his mother was killed in South Africa. Using cultural insights and the personal experience of the Wilderness Foundation Africa team who have been to Vietnam on several occasions throughout the campaign, designers were able to create a comic that is truly believable. The appearance of street scenes the depiction of the culture are a true reflection of Vietnam and we hope that the youth who read these comic books become ambassadors for change.
Published alternate years, the comic is complimented by a competition to become a Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador and visit South Africa to experience rhino in their natural habitat. Junior children are chosen through a competition to draw a picture and write a poem, and senior children are tasked to write an essay on reducing the demand for rhino horn.
The Wilderness Foundation Africa team will visit Vietnam in September 2018 to launch the third round of the Wild Rhino Competition, and distribute the Rhino Ranger comic book and activity book, along with other marketing collateral to the participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
The Wilderness Foundation Africa Wild Rhino team was recently approached to participate in a series of Spark Talks focused on conservation, hosted by Leadership for Conservation in Africa (LCA). The seminar was produced by Homebrew Films at Atlantic Studios in Cape Town, South Africa, and consisted of a line up of 5 speakers. Phan Le Ha Long (Peter) was chosen to represent the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors and he spoke on the Wild Rhino | Vietnam, be my Hero campaign. Peter’s talk focused on how we became one of the 11 winners of the Wild Rhino competition, the highlights of the trail that he took part in whilst in South Africa, the lessons learnt from this trip, as well as the work being done by himself and his fellow Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors in Vietnam to reduce the demand for rhino horn.
Spark Talks – Igniting a Passion for Conservation.
The talks focus on conservation topics with the aim to create a library of short content clips on conservation projects in Africa.
Below is a note of thanks from the producers of LCA Spark Talks to Peter.
“This is a thank you from the whole LCA SPARK TALKS team. Your contribution made the event not only possible but credible.
It is a rare gift to be able to communicate any idea to a broad audience and your talk will resonate with, not only our team, but the audience members for a long time – and also online”.
Vietnamese youth from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) are appealing to their friends, family and peers to stop using rhino horn. In July 2017, the lives of 11 students from various international schools in HCMC were forever altered by their experiences during a six-day hiking trail and educational workshop in the South African wilderness (https://www.wildrhino.org/can-make-difference/). Since returning home, these Wild Rhino Youth Ambassadors – passionately motivated by their new-found knowledge of and respect for nature and wildlife – have run various awareness campaigns to educate the people of Vietnam on the rhino poaching crisis. This week sees the launch of a poster campaign, presenting a personal appeal from each ambassador.
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, Wilderness Foundation Africa – in partnership with SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy, Peace Parks Foundation and Olsen Animal Trust – implements the Wild Rhino demand reduction campaign that aims to educate and engage Vietnamese youth on the issue of rhino poaching through three separate yet cohesive components: the Wild Rhino Competition, the Youth Ambassador Awareness and Education Campaign, and the Rhino Ranger Super Hero Campaign
The overarching goal of these components is to incite passion for conservation, whilst motivating these young people not to use rhino horn. In addition, they are encouraged to assist in saving the rhino by becoming vocal ambassadors for the cause in their communities – and the poster campaign assists them in doing just that. As the faces and voices of this visual awareness campaign that is distributed throughout their schools and on various social media channels, the ambassadors are given a platform through which to share their message with their peers, family, friends and a broader Vietnamese audience. “Because when the youth speaks, the adults will listen” – Thanh Bui, Wild Rhino Ambassador and CEO of SOUL Corporation.
Since the launch of the first Wild Rhino Competition in 11 participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City in 2014, the campaign has reached about 25 000 Vietnamese youth directly, and nearly 1 million youth indirectly through campaign and youth ambassador social media activities.
Look out for the Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador posters at the following participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City and on the Wild Rhino social media channels (FB: @wildrhinovietnam; Instagram: wildrhino.vietnambemyhero; #vietnambemyhero) .
The ABC International School
Saigon South International School
Renaissance International School
American International School
The Asian International School
Australian International School
The American School (TAS)
Canadian International School
Singapore International School
International School of Ho Chi Minh City
Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador, Hoang Dieu An of the American International School, appealing to the Vietnamese to stop using rhino horn.
Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador, Phan Le Long of the American School (TAS), appealing to the Vietnamese to stop using rhino horn.
Demand reduction is vital to the survival of rhino in the wild. Wildlife crime is decimating many of Africa’s iconic species. Rhinos have suffered the most severe effects of this illegal trade. Fuelled by the demand for rhino horn products in specifically Vietnam and other Asian countries, the rhino poaching crisis has pushed these majestic creatures alarmingly close to extinction. South Africa – home to more than 80% of the world’s remaining wild rhino – is utilising all available resources to keep the rhino safe, and bring to justice the ruthless criminal syndicates responsible for these illegal activities. However, as long as there is a demand – which means there are people in the world who believe that rhino horn holds value, and will pay for the horn – wildlife criminals will continue to poach rhino. As part of a multifaceted approach to the poaching crisis, demand reduction initiatives are being launched in primary consumer countries with the aim of educating consumers of rhino horn on the realities of the situation, so as to affect attitudes, change behaviour, and ultimately – stop the demand.
Many of the people who still buy rhino horn do so because they don’t have the correct facts about the horn, how it is obtained, and the devastating impact it is having on the conservation of rhino in Africa and Asia. Futhermore, as many adults are already set in the ways, and the senior generation continues to embrace their beliefs, imprinting on young people hold the most potential for affecting social change in Vietnam. Being the next generation of decision-makers, the Vietnamese youth hold the key to ending the use of rhino horn in their country. With this in mind the Wild Rhino Demand Reduction campaign uses , multimedia marketing channels, competitions and first-hand African wildlife experiences to engage and educate young Vietnamese students. The campaign also aims to inspire these young people to become true Ambassadors for the cause – bringing the campaign to life through them, and dismantling the myths and false beliefs that surround the use of rhino horn products amongst their communities and peers.
South African based conservation organization Wilderness Foundation Africa, in partnership with Vietnam based SOUL Music & Peforming Arts Academy, recently hosted a Seminar entitled “Conservation and Business: Creating a Legacy” in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The seminar was attended by nearly 100 business people from Vietnam, who listened to presentations from 3 presenters and had the opportunity to ask questions and participate in a discussion with the panel of speakers.
In his presertation, Matthew Norval, Chief Operations Officer of Wilderness Foundation Africa highlighted conservation and environmental challenges and opportunities, and the intrinsic link between business and heritage and the common aspiration to create a legacy. Dr. William Fowlds, well known wildlife veterinarian and rhino care specialist based in South Africa, gave an emotional and inspirational presentation, highlighting that rhino are but one of many wildlife species being decimated due to the illicit trade in wildlife products. Dr. Fowlds sees the impact of this trade on a daily basis in his work with rhino killed or injured as a result of poaching, and he shared some of his stories with delegates, illustrating the pain and suffering caused by the demand for rhino horn.
Nguyen Phan Thuy Duong, Managing Editor of ELLE Decoration Vietnam, discussed how contemporary design embraces the concepts of comfort, style, and convenience. She focused on how we can still achieve design goals whilst reducing the impact on the earth’s resources, with a focus on sustainable living and conscious creativity.
During the 2nd segment of the Seminar, the presenters formed part of a panel, which also included Thanh Bui, well known pop star and Managing Director of Soul Corporation and Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc Minh, Head of the Traditional Medicine Department at Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital, to futher discussions and to answer questions from the audience.
Thanh Bui expressed the importance of saving this majestic species and appealed to the audience to consider building a legacy rather than allowing misconception, greed and status to rule our decisions when it comes to the use of rhino horn. Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc Minh discussed traditional medicine in the context of modern health care and showed examples of ancient Traditional Medicine textbooks, illustrating that these books have been misinterpreted and that rhino horn does not cure cancer.
“Today I was honored to engage with some respected Vietnamese traditional medicine practitioners and those involved in business and luxury product branding. They all have a desire to be a part of the solution and NOT the problem, and contribute in a positive way. I learnt and felt so much today. Not since 24th March 2012, when we lost Themba the poaching survivor, have I felt this close to the heart of this consumer market. My heart broke that day, in absolute despair at the sense of suffering and loss. How would his death possibly save other rhino from the same fate? Since then, we have been working in a depth of despair, clawing our way forward. Today, it felt like we took a big step forward in solving this problem”, says Dr William Fowlds.
“The rhino poaching crisis extends across national, cultural and generational boundaries. Along with wildlife crime in general, as well as all the other environmental challenges we face, the senseless killing of rhino for their horn is a shared responsibility. It affects us all and the more we can work together and cooperate the better. The seminar was a very positive experience and it reinforced our believe that the criminal trade in rhino horn can be brought to an end. It is heartening to work with our partners and colleagues in Vietnam who share the concern and continue to demonstrate their commitment and support”, says Matthew Norval Chief Operations Officer of Wilderness Foundation Africa.
The Wild Rhino | Vietnam be my Hero campaign has been implemented by Wilderness Foundation Africa in Vietnam since 2014, in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation, Olsen Animal Trust and SOUL Music & Performing Arts Academy.