Rhino Ranger to the rescue

Vietnam is the world’s largest recipient of illegal rhino horn from South Africa. To reduce rhino horn consumption and therefore demand, Wilderness Foundation Africa is working with school-going Vietnamese youngsters to create a generation who will grow up to influence their peers, parents and families to reduce and ultimately stop the demand for rhino horn.

Building on the story and campaign developed by brand-promotions company Boomtown in 2015, Rhino Ranger returns to Vietnam this month with a second instalment of the Rhino Ranger comic book.

Rhino Ranger is a superhero character that was conceptualised and created to spread the message of the “Wild Rhino Vietnam, Be My Hero” campaign to the target audience in that country.

The story of Rhino Ranger continues as he travels to Vietnam to discover why his mother was killed in South Africa.

“Our first edition was incredibly popular, and our competition to become a Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador has been a huge success,” says Cheryl Reynolds, Relationship and Communications Manager of Wilderness Foundation Africa. “To target a younger audience, we are adding an activity book for those under 12. It’s incredibly exciting to see the campaign grow and reach more young Vietnamese children and mould future generations.”

Using cultural insights, and the personal experience of the Wilderness Foundation Africa team who have been to Vietnam on various occasions throughout the campaign, Boomtown was able to create a comic that was truly believable to its readership.

“The appearance of streets and the depiction of the culture need to be a true reflection of Vietnam,” remarks Boomtown MD Andrew MacKenzie, who visited Vietnam with the Wilderness Foundation when it first launched Rhino Ranger.

“We need the youth to buy into the campaign and become ambassadors for change. We cannot do that if they cannot connect with our content.”

The story for each edition is left open-ended to feed a hunger to know more and create word of mouth between children in the playground, in the classroom and at home.

Published alternate years, the comic is complemented by a competition to become a Wild Rhino Youth Ambassador and visit South Africa to see rhino in their natural habitat. Junior children are chosen through a competition to draw a picture and write a poem, and senior children must write an essay on reducing the demand for rhino horn.

The Rhino Ranger campaign is extending to international schools in Hanoi, the idea being to try to engage the children of wealthy locals who are seen as likely customers of rhino horn. “We have already had a great reception from the international schools we are working with in Ho Chi Minh City. We plan to launch in Hanoi this September,” adds Reynolds.

At the same time the Foundation will launch the third round of the Wild Rhino competition, and distribute the Rhino Ranger comic book and activity book, along with other marketing collateral to the participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

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