News / Africa

New Study Profiles Rhino Horn Buyers

Rhinos with cut horns walk at a farm in Musina, Limpopo Province, South Africa May 9, 2012. The horns are removed in game parks to make the animal a less likely target for poachers.
Rhinos with cut horns walk at a farm in Musina, Limpopo Province, South Africa May 9, 2012. The horns are removed in game parks to make the animal a less likely target for poachers.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
One of the biggest markets for illegally poached rhino horns is Vietnam. Now, a new study profiles the consumers driving that demand and how they view the horns as symbols of status and power.


It’s easy to grasp just how big the demand is. In the first half of this year, hundreds of rhinos have been killed in South Africa alone.

“South Africa is home to about 75 percent of the world’s rhinos. And since 2008, has been experiencing quite a dramatic increase in the poaching of rhinos for their horns -- up from less than 20 a year to 668 in 2012 and already 635 in 2013,” said Dr. Jo Shaw, rhino coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund South Africa.

She said that demand for rhino horns existed long before the huge spike in trafficking to Vietnam and China.

“Earlier demand for horn for dagger handles in the Yemen had a very serious, negative impact on rhino populations throughout eastern and central Africa through the 60s and 70s. But since about 1994, rhino numbers have been increasing. The populations have been growing again. So I think everyone was hit a little bit by surprise by this new wave in the poaching epidemic.”

That new wave in the poaching epidemic led the WWF to fund a consumer research study, which was then coordinated by a Vietnamese branch of the conservation group TRAFFIC. It surveyed 720 people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

“With the goal of developing a very targeted demand reduction campaign in that country, we wanted to better understand exactly who it was that was using the horn and why, so that we could begin to try and bring about behavior change,” said Shaw.

The study also shows that buyers of rhino horns are often women in their 50s, who are giving them to family members.

///   4th SHAW ACT   ///

Shaw said, “The finding from the research about this most significant user group to be addressing shows that it’s the wealthy, older businessmen, who are very successful. They still have some belief in the medicinal and functional properties of the horn. It’s seen as a kind of panacea, a cure all. [It’s] often given as a gift to other family members or particularly to business associates or people within your peer group to show one’s wealth and status.”

Only 35-percent of the people surveyed said they would never buy or consume rhino horn.
“Underneath these current users – the current target group – are another group of slightly younger, very aspirational, upwardly mobile people within the same community, who aren’t able to afford to buy rhino horn at the moment, but are very much intending to do so in the future as soon as their economic situation allows it,” she said.

The conservation groups will now use the data to develop an awareness campaign that’s not only effective, but culturally sensitive to Vietnamese. The research indicates that while rhino horn consumers are aware that many animals are being killed, they still feel’ “very disconnected” from the issue. They do not see themselves as “catalysts for the current poaching crisis.”

“We need to think carefully about how we run campaigns around behavior change. And understand that being culturally sensitive and speaking in the most influential way to the most influential people is really what will give us the biggest impact,” said Shaw.

The World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC will work closely with Vietnamese agencies in designing the rhino horn awareness campaign.

While efforts increase to reduce demand for rhino horns in Asia, much still needs to be done in Africa. The U.S. and others have launched new programs to improve anti-poaching efforts. Currently, poachers are often better armed and better equipped than game park rangers. Also, local communities will be encouraged to report any poaching they see. 

Rhinos are included in CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More