In 2012, WildAid interviewed residents in three major Chinese cities – Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou – to better understand awareness and attitudes toward rhino conservation, and to identify the behaviors and beliefs of rhino horn consumers.
In 2013, WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation launched a campaign to reduce the demand for rhino horn in China. Using the 2012 findings to inform the campaign strategy, WildAid began working to raise awareness of the rhino poaching crisis, support lawmakers and increase enforcement efforts in China, and ultimately reduce demand for rhino horn. One year into the campaign, WildAid replicated its survey to assess changes in awareness, attitudes and behavior regarding rhino horn consumption and the poaching crisis, and to ascertain the reach of campaign messages in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Rhinos continue to be poached at an alarming scale. More than 1,215 rhinos were poached for their horns in South Africa alone in 2014 compared to just 13 rhinos killed in 2007. However, there has been progress in changing attitudes and beliefs toward rhinos and rhino horn in one of the world’s top consuming nations.
WildAid/AWF’s 2014 survey shows significant improvement in overall knowledge and recognition of the severity of the poaching crisis, as well as awareness of how rhino horn is obtained.
- There was a 23.5% reduction in the belief that rhino horn has a medicinal effect.
- Ninety-five percent of residents who do not consume rhino horn agree that the Chinese government should take stricter action to prevent the use of rhino horns, while even 87% of rhino horn consumers agree with stricter regulations.
- Of the residents who had seen WildAid’s rhino PSAs featuring ambassadors Yao Ming or Jackie Chan, 90% said they would not buy rhino horn after watching them.
The results of the 2014 survey are promising and demonstrate that demand reduction campaigns are having an impact on China’s residents’ attitudes and behaviors toward rhinos and the rhino horn trade.