WWF-SA Rhino Programme Manager, Dr Jo Shaw announced the launch of their new behavior change campaign, strategically aimed at the new users of rhino horn. She stated “It is imperative to work along the entire illicit supply chain, from rhino to consumer if we hope to win the war.” A lot of work has been done along this chain, but the demand continues to spike.
13 South African rhino were poached in 2007. In 2013, 1004 rhino were poached. On 11th September 2014, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs announced 769 rhino had been poached this year. Novel Chi means “Power Comes From Our Will”. Chi is Power or Strength. The campaign is a collaborative effort conducted by WWF-SA, TRAFFIC and PSI, a social marketing group with experience in behavior change. It is based on intense research into the behavior of rhino horn users and the various approaches taken to date.
“Experience has now shown that positive messaging coming from within the target group is the most powerful way to change behavior,” says Shaw.
Images of rhino carcasses and mutilated rhino have little impact. Appeals for the rhino as a species have little impact. Targeting the emotional motivators driving the new age user – Vietnamese men aged 35–50 – is essential. This group is highly susceptible to admiration within their peer groups and business circles. Business success, social standing and lifestyle are most valued. Rhino horn has become evidence of wealth, elevated social status and is a highly prized corporate gift, all leading to the recent spike in horn demand.
More concerning are the “Intenders” group. These are young urban men eager to climb the social ladder quickly, are hugely money conscious and aspirational. They mimic the behavior of their seniors in order to gain social recognition. As they can afford horn, they enter the market. A rapid growth in purchasing power in Asian economies has increased the pressure on rhino. This “intenders” group indicates a potential 300 – 400% growth in horn market. The traditional medicinal use of horn has remained relatively constant and is now a small percentage.
It is essential to target behavior change within the current social and corporate users, reduce aspiration and therefore demand. The campaign appeals to this market through strong messages linked to strong aspirational images that depict the target audience – businessmen in suits. This is a complete divergence from traditional conservation messaging.
This campaign is part of WWF-SA’s 5-point approach:
- Building resilient rhino populations
- Developing community buffers around rhino conservation areas
- Supporting Forensic and Judicial chain
- Support National Policies in rhino range states
- Curb trade and demand
Big Game Parks wishes WWF-SA, TRAFFIC and PSI every success in this campaign.