Communication helps change behaviour, saves wildlife consumption

by 29 March 2016 Last updated at 15:00 PM

VTV.vn - Government officials and behavioural experts working on wildlife campaigns in Việt Nam called for more efforts in raising public awareness, and changing behaviour to curb wildlife consumption in the country.

US Ambassador to Việt Nam Ted Osius spoke in Vietnamese at the seminar on efforts to reduce the demand on wildlife organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Freeland – a frontline counter-trafficking organisation working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery.

Osius said that the US was committed to be with Việt Nam in its fight against wildlife trafficking and consumption.

He also called on strengthening law enforcement, investigation, detection and punishment for wildlife violations.

In 2015, Việt Nam and the United States teamed up in Operation Game Change (OGC), an alliance aimed at ending wildlife crime, especially rhino horn trafficking.

Daniel Lindgren, founder of Bangkok-based RapidAsia – a behavioural change evaluation firm, said that it was like a journey to change someone’s behaviour and the communication campaign was expected to intervene and speed up the process.

The behavioural change journey concept begins with people unaware about something, then they know, believe, change attitude, and pay attention, and finally change behaviour, he said.

Daniel shared a story about law enforcers who reached residents’ houses, and asked them to take fire preventive measures. When asked how many fires they prevented in a year, they said, “We cannot prove that what we prevent would have happened if we did not.”

Daniel said that it was similar to the role of communication campaigns in reducing wildlife demands, and added that such campaigns were necessary despite the difficulty in understanding their effects.

Hà Thị Mai Trang, an official from Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Management Authority of Việt Nam, said that the country launched a campaign on reducing rhino horn consumption as soon as the last CITES meeting in 2013 identified the country as a primary rhino horn consuming market and urged strong action.

A pre-campaign poll conducted by Nielsen showed that 25 per cent of people asked did not know that buying, selling, and transporting rhino horn was illegal. About 51 per cent believed it was effective as medicine, most believed it could treat rheumatism or cancer, and rhino horn was bought and used by all sectors of society including men and women, old and young, and rich and poor.

Thus, the campaign was designed to reach the general public including women, students from primary schools to universities, and business circles.

Billboards and posters are up at crowded areas such as schools, offices, airport, and buses, in addition to hotels, and shopping malls, with messages that say “Rhino horn has no medical value”, “If you buy rhino horn, you are wasting money”, and “Some rhino horn is intentionally poisoned by wildlife rangers and consuming it may harm health.”

About 1.5 million books titled “I’m a little Rhino” with stories about rhinos, and enriching understanding and animal love were given to primary school students.

Trang said that message delivery methods must be tailored to certain targeted groups.

Nguyễn Thị Vân Anh from Biodiversity Conservation Agency, under the environment ministry, said that improved public awareness and law enforcement was the key to curbing wildlife consumption. 


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