A new poll reveals that demand for rhino horn in Vietnam has declined, just within the last year, by a startling 38.1 percent, mainly as a result of a multi-faceted marketing campaign by Humane Society International and the Vietnamese government. The UN identified Vietnam as a top market for sales of rhino horns – a process that has driven the killing of more than 1,800 rhinos in South Africa over the last two years – and it was that information that caused us to swing into action. But the rapid shift in public attitude has been surprising even to us.
Nielsen polls – one conducted before the start of the HSI campaign and one conducted a year after it had started – reported a drop of 25.4 percent over a year in the number of Vietnamese who believe that rhino horn has medicinal properties. In the city of Hanoi, where most of the public information campaigns have been concentrated, there was a 77 percent decrease in the percentage of people who buy or use rhino horn.
The HSI's three-year campaign, in partnership with Vietnam CITES Management Authority, used a variety of approaches to build awareness from the grassroots – and to drive home the message that it is illegal to buy, sell and transport rhino horn in Vietnam. These approaches include: