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Rhinos in Vietnam: Messaging that doesn't impact the target audience

Brenda Bonnett

Viewed: 1,044 times


rhino horns2.jpgOur colleagues at Human Behaviour Change for Animals posted this on their Facebook page:

"Fantastic work exploring the demand for rhino horn with the aim of creating campaigns with messaging that is more likely to work than current messaging.  At HBCA we believe that it is vital that we don't make assumptions about why people do or don't do things and  that we find out for ourselves so we enjoyed reading this article and the papers it links to."

And directed us toWe asked people in Vietnam why they use rhino horn. Here’s what they said.


(Image: Malaysia’s wildlife department seized 50
African rhino horns destined for Vietnam


As I read it I noticed parallels to challenges with human behaviour change in dogs.  Words like:

deeply held beliefs... status... 

and focus on personal wants and needs and not what consumers consider 'remote' issues.


From the article:  "Our findings shed light on why current campaigns against rhino horn purchases aren’t working. For example, they tend to highlight the plight of rhinos, suggest that rhino horn doesn’t have medicinal properties or emphasize the legal consequences of purchasing it. 

  ... From our research it’s clear that people who buy rhino horn won’t be won over by any of these arguments."

As the authors suggest... in order for education efforts to make a difference - actually change outcomes -

"[campaigns] must be "better informed about the values associated with the use of rhino horn and that target the most prevalent types of uses."


I would suggest that we can cross out rhino horn and write in any number of current controversial issues in the dog world and take this as good advice.

To become 'better informed' we must listen to each other and not impose our perception of the important issues or compelling arguments onto others if we want to be effective.

Many of us are thinking about these issues as we approach the 4th IDHW in Windsor, UK, later this month.

See, e.g. Ian Seath's latest blog:  We need to stop trying to change people’s minds!




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