Protesters lock horns with China over ivory as campaigners look into buyers
Gone are the days when a “Save the Rhino” advert was enough. Only about 25,000 rhinos are left in the wild, and thanks to poaching the species is critically endangered. Now, in an effort to drive down demand, conservationists are working on campaigns to understand what makes rhino horn consumers tick.
The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) behavioural-change campaigns are being developed as the world’s attention is fixed on combating global wildlife crime. Hundreds of people descended on the Chinese embassy in London yesterday to demand that China bans the trade in elephant ivory, destroys its stocks and closes ivory carving factories.
When the world’s leaders gather at the London conference in a few weeks’ time to find a solution to wildlife crime, cutting demand will be one of their top priorities. More than 100 African elephants are killed every day. According to a recent South African report, 2013 was the worst year on record for rhino poaching in the country, with 1,004 animals killed – a 50 per cent increase on the previous year.
Sabri Zain, director of Policy at Traffic, the WWF’s wildlife trade monitoring programme, said demand-reduction campaigns must focus on the people who are buying illegal wildlife products. “At times we have probably been talking to the wrong people and giving the wrong message,” he said. “People might think rhino horn consumers are fairly old traditionalists who believe in the magical power of the rhino horn to cure cancer, but in reality [those ones] are a minute number. The archetypal consumer is young to middle-aged, very well educated and a leader in the corporate world.”
Protesters gather outside the Chinese embassy in London
A recent survey by the WWF of more than 700 people in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, found that rhino horn consumers tend to be urban men, over the age of 40, from the upper echelons of society. And the most common reason for buying rhino horn was linked to prestige: it is thought to reaffirm one’s social status and is often bought as a gift for family members, colleagues, or those in positions of authority.
Mr Zain added that the typical messaging used by conservationists, depicting rhinos as “magnificent beasts”, can actually serve to encourage consumption.
WWF is working on a campaign to change corporate behaviour and attitudes in Vietnam, working with companies to encourage them to penalise staff who give rhino horns as gifts. It also hopes to reach the buyers’ children, who are thought to have an influence on their parents.
But it is not only about the rhinos. The appeal in The Independent on Sunday and its sister titles supports Space for Giants, a charity that works to defend Africa’s elephants. Its founder, Max Graham, said it costs about £120 a year for each elephant to protect north Kenya’s elephant population from armed poachers. He added that it would cost about £50m a year to extend this support to the whole of the continent.
“If demand for ivory were to disappear, then we could invest these resources into more important conservation measures over the long term, such as habitat protection. That is why demand reduction is so critical,” he said.
Mary Rice, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, who was at the protest yesterday, said China must exert its authority and ban the ivory trade. “The poaching of these elephants will impact local economies; not only because it will destroy their heritage but [because] it will endanger the tourist economy,” she said. “This is a global issue, not just Africa’s.”
Dominic Dyer, policy adviser for the charity Care for the Wild, said Britain needed to use its influence to protect the animals. “The UK government is in a unique position to promote education into the horrors and dangers of the trade,” he said.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...