Wildlife Trade Specialists

A rhino horn consumer in Hanoi, Vietnam, shows off horn she purchased to treat a tumor © Robert Patterson / WWF

rhino horn in Asia working to reduce the consumption of rhino horn in Viet Nam and China

A rhino horn consumer in Hanoi, Vietnam, shows off horn she purchased to treat a tumor © Robert Patterson / WWF


a background to the issue

The illegal killing of African rhinos was a relatively minor occurrence until the early 2000s, at which point increasing consumer demand from Asia began to drive rapidly increasing poaching levels.

Although rhino horn is made up of keratin–the same substance that human hair and nails consist of–there is a widespread belief in Asia that rhino horn possesses various curative and spiritual properties. Many of these are embedded in cultural and social norms, which makes developing impactful behavioural change responses an ongoing conservation challenge.

at least three African rhinos are

poached every day

Trinh Nguyen, Senior Programme Officer

Identifying key rhino horn consumers and the motivations behind their consumption enables us to develop messages most likely to resonate with target audiences

Trinh Nguyen, Senior Programme Officer

behavioural change in Viet Nam

Although early indicators seem to point towards China as the leading market for illegal rhino horn, Viet Nam continues to be a major consumer of rhino horn products.

Kickstarted by urban myths concerning its perceived health and curative benefits, rhino horn has also since become a sought after status symbol among Viet Nam's burgeoning wealthy middle classes, as well as being used by new mothers in the belief it reduces fever in children.

Rhino horn grinding bowls in Hanoi, Viet Nam © Robert Patterson / WWF


the Chi Initiative

The Chi Initiative is based on the Vietnamese concept of "Chi" or "Strength of Will", and consists of a collaborative social marketing project between TRAFFIC, Save the Rhino and other key partners working to identify and reach key rhino horn consumers.

It is the driving force behind our SBCC activities in Viet Nam, harnessing the potential of advanced consumer profiling and behavioural modelling techniques to guide the development of demand reduction initiatives. It was initially launched in 2014, and is currently in its second phase.

download the 2017 briefing paper


who are the consumers?

The identification and subsequent psychological, cultural, and social profiling of core consumer groups is a key step in developing appropriate behavioural change messaging.

A combination of market surveys, anonymous questionnaires and profiling techniques have enabled us to develop a detailed picture of the archetypal rhino horn consumer in Viet Nam. For the purposes of helping to shape SBCC initiatives, his name is "Mr. L."


  • Aged 35–55
  • Married with Children
  • Lives in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City
  • Prioritises a successful career + social status
  • Wants to be seen as a leader
  • Influenced by social + business contacts

a strategic approach

The Chi Initiative, in addition to guiding wider SBCC projects, is split into phases, each targeting consumer groups with different types of messages and messengers.

Examples of strategic Chi messaging techniques have included facilitating face-to-face engagement by high-profile "Agents of Change" within celebrity and corporate spheres as well as the development and placement of targeted SBCC adverts in business lounges, sport centres and inside corporate publications.

An example of a billboard advert developed under Chi Phase I


engaging civil society and the private sector

Another TRAFFIC project running in Viet Nam partnered with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and business leaders, opinion makers and government figures to give them the tools necessary to deliver meaningful behavioural change messages.

The project, also part of the Chi Initiative, helped amplify targeted messages through well known public organisations, cementing successful partnerships with influential groups and sharing culturally specific messages through locally-recognisable channels.

protecting rhinos project brochure


75% increase

between 205–2018 in survey respondents who expressed commitments to not use or trade in rhino horn


people have been exposed to anti-trafficking SBCC messaging through workshops and communications campaigns


key social influencers have taken a public stance against illegal wildlife consumption

related materials to SBCC on rhino horn

explore the latest news, reports and materials concerning our work to reduce the motivation for the consumption of rhino horn in Asia

related reports to RHINO HORN and SBCC

TRAFFIC is a leading voice on SBCC methodology and measurement. Explore our latest reports related to SBCC and rhino horn our visit our publication library for the full TRAFFIC archive.