Pangolins are one of the most highly prized wildlife commodities in China, where they are used for myriad social, cultural and medicinal purposes © A. Walmsley / TRAFFIC

consumer behavioural change reducing motivations behind the consumption of illegal wildlife products

Pangolins are one of the most highly prized wildlife commodities in China, where they are used for myriad social, cultural and medicinal purposes © A. Walmsley / TRAFFIC


reducing the motivation for the consumption of illegal wildlife products

Unsustainable consumer demand for wildlife products is a leading cause for the threats facing many species across the world.

Recently, demand for rhino horn, pangolins and tropical timber in Asia is pushing species to crisis point. TRAFFIC has been at the forefront of innovation within the field of Social and Behavioural Change Communications (SBCC), running various projects with relevant stakeholders targeting specific consumers of a variety of threatened wildlife. Already, we have seen many of these projects show encouraging reach and resonance in their messaging, giving us hope that we can reduce the social, cultural and religious motivations for the consumption of threatened wildlife products.


of residents surveyed in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh had previously used or bought rhino horn

Gayle Burgess, Behaviour Change Programme Leader

Social and behavioural change communications are one of the most powerful tools we have in effecting lasting change for threatened wildlife species

Gayle Burgess, Behaviour Change Programme Leader

the focus of our behavioural change projects

the power of behaviour change

The conservation sector has increasingly been harnessing the powerful potential for behavioural science to help change wildlife product consumer choice.

The consumption of many wildlife products is often grounded within deeply ingrained cultural, social, religious or economic motivations. Pangolin scales and rhino horn for example are each consumed for both their perceived health benefits, as well as a display of status or wealth. By identifying the consumer groups behind the consumption of particular wildlife products, and by understanding the reasons which influence these consumer choices, we have been able to develop initiatives which work towards a sustained and transformative change in attitudes.

A specialised rhino horn grinding bowl manufactured in Hanoi where horns are ground to then form a drinkable substance © Robert Patterson / WWF


Powers of Persuasion

Conservation has really only just begun to embrace the powerful potential for behavioural science in helping to bring about change for wildlife product consumer choice.

In this paper Gayle Burgess, TRAFFIC's Behavioural Change Co-ordinator, introduces some of the core behavioural change concepts and theories that can form critical points of reference when designing messages to change consumer behaviour choice.

powers of persuasion

a selection of our behavioural change projects

rhino horn in Asia

Viet Nam, China and various neighbouring nations are key markets for the consumption of rhino horn.

We're helping to spearhead revolutionary new SBCC approaches to identify, profile and tailor targeted social marketing initiatives to reduce the demand for rhino horn.

rhino horn in Asia

An advert from the Chi Initiative targeting consumers of rhino horn motivated by social and spiritual factors


Change Wildlife Consumers toolkit

TRAFFIC is at the forefront of developing practical SBCC initiatives based on evidence-based sociological, psychological, economical and marketing research.

We operate a Wildlife Consumers Behavioural Change online toolkit, a platform which hosts open-source research, guidance, documentation, reports, webinars, and discussion forums on everything related to behavioural change. These materials and forums are an invaluable way of helping academics, practitioners, researchers, communicators and campaigners develop the best possible understanding of how to effectively bring about transformative change to help wildlife threatened by unsustainable or illegal consumption. Join the discussion ...

wildlife consumers toolkit

China's Champions of Change

China's Champions of Change is an EU-funded behaviour change project in China which concentrates on reducing the consumption of pangolin products and tropical timber.

China is a major consumer market for wildlife products. Pangolins are prized throughout wide consumer demographics for their perceived social, medicinal and social benefits, including for consumption as a delicacy of for use within Chinese Traditional Medicines.The overall objective of this project is to support China to reduce the demand for endangered species products, including pangolins and tropical timber. 

more about champions of change

Ground Pangolin Smutsia temminckii © Keith Connelly


related news and reports to behavioural change

explore news, materials and recent publications related to our behavioural change projects

latest reports and materials

Behaviour change is an increasingly important discipline within efforts to preserve threatened species. View our latest reports and resources on behavioural change below.

Visit our resource library for the full TRAFFIC publication archive.

Are you working to reduce consumption of illegal or endagered wildlife products?