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.
Identifying key rhino horn consumers and the motivations behind their consumption enables us to develop messages most likely to resonate with target audiencesTrinh Nguyen, Senior Programme Officer
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.
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.
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."
"MR. L" CONSUMER PROFILE:
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.
The Chi Initiative is generously funded by the "Partnership against Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade (Ivory and Rhino-Horn) in Africa and Asia", implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
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.
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
This TRAFFIC project was generously funded by the Agence Francaise de Developpement in partnership with WWF France.
We would also like to thank contributing partners Save the Rhino, WWF, Peace Parks Foundation and the UK Government for their additional support.
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