22 Sep Rhino Ranger to the rescue!
New superhero taps into Vietnamese culture to reduce rhino horn demand
September 22nd marks World Rhino Day, and Wilderness Foundation Africa in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation and SOUL Music and Performing Arts Academy launches its superhero Rhino Ranger to cut consumption of rhino horn in Vietnam, the worlds largest recipient of illegal rhino horn from South Africa.
Working with school going Vietnamese youngsters, Wilderness Foundation Africa is collaborating with a generation that will grow up, and be in a position to influence not only their peers but also their parents and family.
“It’s hard to change beliefs that are engrained in Vietnamese culture both old and new overnight, but by tapping into youth culture, we believe we can build awareness and reduce demand which will ultimately prevent rhino from being wiped out .” says Matthew Norval, Chief Operations Officer of Wilderness Foundation Africa.
The super hero character, Rhino Ranger, has been revealed through a series of posts on social media over a number of days, with the comic book itself due to be launched on November 1st in International schools across Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The launches will comprise of a number of activities including having a life size Rhino Ranger mascot handing out materials that support the campaign message. These include paper masks for the younger children and the comic books themselves. “This is all in the run-up to the launch of the next Wild Rhino competition, which forms the basis of the demand reduction campaign, where winners come to South Africa to learn about the rhino’s plight and to then spread the message on their return to Vietnam.” says Norval.
“We are proud to be working in Vietnam,” adds Brad Poole, Programme Manager at Peace Parks Foundation. “We now have 22 Vietnamese Wild Rhino youth ambassadors from 11 International schools in Ho Chi Minh City who have experienced rhino in the wild in South Africa and are an important component of the campaign”.
The campaign is based on the understanding that the threats to wildlife are a universal problem and that the people of Vietnam and South Africa can work together to secure a shared natural heritage.
If the youth of Vietnam adopt the cause against the use of rhino horn, we have the ability to build authentic, credible ambassadors that the Vietnamese people will be influenced by and it allows them to feel like an integral part of the solution. “By using a team of ambassadors from the Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Wild Rhino campaign within print advertising, posters, online and word of mouth, we can spread the message to prevent the purchase and sale of rhino horn”, says Andrew MacKenzie, MD of Boomtown. Rhino Ranger, the second element of the campaign uses a comic book format as the platform to tell the story. In keeping with this theme there is always a hero who is central to the storyline who challenges evil and fights off crime.
Rhino Ranger and the Wild Rhino Initiative forms part of a broader five-year rolling implementation strategy aimed at curbing the demand for rhino horn in primary user countries such as Vietnam.
22 Sep 2016
ABOUT THE WILDERNESS FOUNDATION AFRICA
Wilderness Foundation Africa works from its base in South Africa to protect and sustain wildlife and wilderness through integrated conservation and education programmes. Whether it is direct action anti-poaching in the field, large landscape wilderness management, or developing rising young leaders from disadvantaged communities for a career in conservation, the Wilderness Foundation has over 40 years of results.
The Wilderness Foundation’s Forever Wild Conservation Programme was developed in 2011 as a response to the rhino poaching crisis and has been active through the Rhino Protection Initiative. The initiative primarily provides logistical and operational support for conservation and law enforcement agencies responsible for rhino security. Activities include the coordination of anti-poaching training, aerial assistance, vehicle and specialist support, as well as a rhino survivor fund and demand reduction activities in Vietnam.
ABOUT PEACE PARKS FOUNDATION
Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) was founded by Nelson Mandela, Dr Anton Rupert and Prince Bernard of the Netherlands in 1997 to facilitate the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) in southern Africa. Today, the overall objective of PPF is to facilitate and co-ordinate the establishment and development of TFCAs that have the potential of safe-guarding the integrity of biological diversity, whilst at the same time contributing to the development of shared economic benefits and poverty alleviation.
The Foundation has a number of focus areas, including the development of the region’s TFCAs, community development projects in and around those areas, training wildlife managers at the Southern African Wildlife College, training in hospitality and in tracking skills at the SA College for Tourism, and combatting wildlife crime, with a first focus on rhino protection through the Foundation’s Rhino Protection Programme. Wildlife Crime is decimating Africa’s iconic species of elephant, rhino, lion and leopard and threatening the very existence of Africa’s protected areas where tourism is a major GDP contributor. Given the trans-national nature of wildlife crime, the region’s peace parks are playing a crucial role in combatting it as countries jointly counter the onslaught across national borders and work towards harmonizing policies and legislation.