Spread the Word
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95% of the world's rhinos have been lost in the past 40 years
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 and Zimbabwe with the main markets identified as Vietnam and China. In 2012, a record 668 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. Already by early November 2013, over 860 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.
In 2013, we launched a three-year campaign to reduce rhino horn demand in 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.
Moving forward, our goal is to use existing methodology, networks, and contacts from our shark fin campaign to:
In addition, messages were recorded with China’s leading actress Li Bing Bing and American actress Maggie Q, as well as forming a collaboration between The Duke of Cambridge (Prince William), sports icon David Beckham, and Yao Ming.
We also developed partnerships with African Wildlife Foundation, Education for Nature–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 will continue to build momentum by creating more new messages and extensive street-level and social media campaigns. Our continuing partnership with Sina Weibo (e.g. China’s Twitter) will help spread our messages as we create an editorial board of celebrity ambassadors to share facts alongside their personal views online.
The Impact Timeline