Rhinos

95% of the world's rhinos have been lost in the past 40 years

Background: 

All rhino species are critically endangered, except the Southern white rhino, which has recovered from around 50 to over 20,000 individuals since the 1960s. The precipitous decline of African rhinos everywhere outside of South Africa was halted in 1993 by tough action from the Convention of the International Trade of Flora and Fauna (CITES), which led to the sanctioning of Taiwan by the Clinton Administration and the banning of domestic sales of rhino horn (international trade ban being in place since 1975) in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. This process involved the arrest of rhino horn sellers and a public burning of rhino horn in China and tremendous publicity surrounding the sanctions in Taiwan. Between 1994 and 2008 both Black and Southern white rhino populations grew steadily.

All rhino species are critically endangered, except the Southern White rhino, which has recovered from around 50 to over 20,000 individuals since the 1960s. The precipitous decline of African rhinos everywhere outside of South Africa was halted in 1993 by tough action from the Convention of the International Trade of Flora and Fauna (CITES), which led to the sanctioning of Taiwan by the Clinton Administration and the banning of domestic sales of rhino horn (international trade ban being in place since 1975) in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. This process involved the arrest of rhino horn sellers and a public burning of rhino horn in China and tremendous publicity surrounding the sanctions in Taiwan. Between 1994 and 2008 both Black and Southern White rhino populations grew steadily.

In 2008 poaching started to rise and last year the world witnessed record levels of rhino poaching in South Africa with the main markets identified as Vietnam and China. In 2013, a record 1,004 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. Already by early November 2014, 791 rhinos have been killed.

During this time legal trophy hunting of rhinos in South Africa was infiltrated by Vietnamese organized crime. Suddenly a large number of rhino horn “trophies” were exported from South Africa to Vietnam and it appears that this was used to develop new markets in Vietnam, which are now being fed by horns from poaching. In addition, increased Chinese economic activity in Africa contributed to an increase in the apprehension of Chinese smuggling rhino horn.

While tens of millions of dollars are spent annually on studying and protecting rhinos in the wild, since the 1993 interventions only a few hundred thousand dollars has been spent on addressing the underlying demand for rhino horn that drives poaching.

What is WildAid doing?: 

In 2013, we launched a three-year campaign to reduce rhino horn demand in China. Our goal is to use existing methodology, networks, and contacts from our shark fin campaign to:

  • Raise awareness in Vietnam and China of the rhino poaching crisis.
  • Support Vietnamese lawmakers in banning rhino horn sales and increasing enforcement efforts there and in China.
  • Measurably reduce demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China.

The kick-off featured new public service messages from longtime WildAid Ambassador Yao Ming and actor/director Jiang Wen that were broadcast thousands of times on nearly two dozen TV channels in the first two months of the campaign.

In addition, we developed partnerships with African Wildlife Foundation, CHANGE­–Vietnam, and the National Basketball Association. We continue to liaise with the Chinese State Forestry Administration and are encouraged to see them reach out to all Chinese travelling abroad in a message not to buy rhino horn via Chinese cell phone providers.

In 2014, we are continuing to build momentum by creating new messages and extensive street-level and social media campaigns. We developed new public service messages with actor Jackie Chan, actress Maggie Q, Yao Ming, The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), and sports icon David Beckham.

The Impact Timeline:

  • October 2014: Won a Wildscreen Panda Campaign Award for "Tools of the Trade", our latest rhino message featuring Jackie Chan at the Wildscreen film festival.
  • August 2014: Held a media briefing for journalists in Ho Chi Minh City to inform them about our campaign and inspire them to be more involved.
  • August 8, 2014: Launched our Yao Ming documentary "The End of the Wild" in China, which aired in two parts on China Central Television.  
  • July 2014: WildAid Ambassadors and Vietnamese pop stars Thu Minh and Thanh Bui began filming two public service messages to air in Vietnam later this year.
  • April 2014: WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights delivered a presentation on rhino horn demand reduction and prospects for limiting rhino poaching at the Outraged Citizens Against Poaching Conference – Assessing the Risks of Rhino Horn Trade in Pretoria, South Africa
  • March 2014: We formally launched the rhino horn campaign in Vietnam in partnership with African Wildlife Foundation and CHANGE with the release of “Real Men”, a series of three public service messages featuring Vietnamese celebrities Anh Tuan, Thu Huong, and Quoc Trung, along with Vietnamese versions of “Tools of the Trade”, “Whole World”, and “Fatherhood”, as well as Jackie Chan billboards and print ads.
  • February 2014: We released two new rhino horn public service messages featuring Jackie Chan, “Tools of the Trade”, and the trio of Yao Ming, The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), and David Beckham, “Whole World” in conjunction with the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.
  • January 2014: South Africa announced that 1,004 of its rhinos were poached in 2013, a sharp increase from 13 in 2007. An additional 37 rhinos were killed for their horns in the first few weeks of 2014.
  • 2013: Distributed our rhino public service messages throughout China and secured more than 2,919 airings across 7 TV channels, amounting to $11 million in pro-bono broadcast value.
  • December 2013: We launched "Fatherhood", a new public service message featuring The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming.
  • November 2013: Together with NBA Cares, we launched a broadcast and social media campaign in China featuring Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers.
  • October 2013: WildAid Ambassador, artist, and activist Asher Jay created the “Blood Horn” and “Africa’s Panda’s” campaigns for publications in China and an English language social media initiative.
  • September 2013: Along with African Wildlife Foundation, we officially launched “The Sickening Truth” graphic video message online in three languages: English, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.
  • September 2013: The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming met in London to film two public service messages for WildAid (first message released December 2013, second message released February 2014).
  • September 2013: We re-launched Yao Ming’s blog as he re-visited Kenya to continue filming for “The End of the Wild” documentary to be released in 2014.
  • June 2013: WildAid Ambassador Jackie Chan filmed a public service message to air in China and Vietnam.
  • June 2013: WildAid Ambassador and American actress Maggie Q filmed a public service announcement to air in China and Vietnam.
  • May 2013: China’s leading actress, Li Bing Bing, filmed a public service message to air in China and Vietnam.
  • April 2013: Together with Yao Ming and the African Wildlife Foundation we launched the “Say No to Rhino Horn” campaign in Beijing.
  • April 2013: CCTV and nearly two dozen broadcast stations began airing several public service massages featuring Yao Ming’s recent visit to Africa.
  • March 2013: We compiled the “Rhino Horn Demand” report, showing a significant lack of knowledge among China’s residents regarding rhino poaching and a strong willingness to ban rhino horn once presented with the facts of the trade.
How can you help?: 
  • First and foremost, do not buy any products made of rhino horn.
  • Tell your friends and relatives that they may be contributing to the irreversible decline of rhino populations by consuming rhino horn.
  • Contact your elected officials asking them what steps they are taking to end the rhino horn trade.