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April UPDATE - 2015 Tariffs affecting Mana Pools

Please refer to the Zambezi Society Bulletin February 2015 under the heading “Uncontrolled visitor activity…. “ (this is available off our website)-which gives the motivation for developing a code of conduct. We take this opportunity to thank those members of the public who responded to the questionnaires.


At the end of 2014 The Society was invited to the AGM of the Lower Zambezi Tour Operators Association (LZTOA) to discuss the deteriorating behaviour of certain visitors and tour operators. A team was set up to work on a Code of Conduct for the Park. The LZTOA active team members are: Stretch Ferreira, Nick Murray, Andrew Smith, Dick Pitman and Dave MacFarland. We drew on, and customised,  the guidelines which have been developed and adopted at Gona Re Zhou. With input from the LZTOA team members and responsive members of Zambezi Society a final draft has been produced. Progressive liaison took place with National Parks at the appropriate level. This final draft is attached for your information BUT we stress that in the light of the 2015 tariff paper we need to seek clarification before this Code of Conduct can be adopted.

The 2015 tariff paper makes reference to rules pertaining to “tours” stating that “tours must be guided by……”. [We have had sight of the clause but have yet to get a copy] By implication this clause could be intended to mean all unguided walking. Zambezi Society sent a motivated letter to Parks on the 13th April requesting a meeting to seek clarification and if need be moderation to the clause dealing with “tours”. We, together with a representative from LZTOA visited Parks Head Office on the 14th April but the relevant Director/ Manager were not in town. We, together with LZTOA, will endeavour to seek clarification and, if need be, motivate for mutually agreed modifications.

We have yet to arrive at a full understanding of this matter. This delay may, to some degree, have fuelled some unsavoury accusations on social media. At the same time we note from the plethora of balanced comments that “walking” in Mana Pools is one of its iconic attributes.

Mana Pools anti-poaching workshop

The Zambezi Society was privileged to have attended a three-day workshop earlier this month at Chirundu Safari Lodge to discuss anti-poaching needs in Mana Pools National Park. A cross-section of Government entities and other stakeholders brought a wide range of skills and experience to bear on a common goal – to reduce poaching in Mana Pools and by extension in the Lower Zambezi Valley. The outcome, aside from building relationships and networking, was a detailed action plan with clear responsibilities and time lines. Once we have the final document we will share those elements that can appear in the public domain.

Thank you all for your ongoing support and deep collective responsibility towards the wilderness areas of the Zambezi Basin.

The Zambezi Society FEBRUARY 2015 Bulletin

A good day to you all! Please kindly note that our Zambezi Society Bulletin February 2015 is now available to the public. Please click on the link here: – February 2015 Bulletin which will take you to our newsletter and bring you up-to-date with everything. Thank you and enjoy!




Over the past couple of years, the wilderness experience in Mana Pools National Park has undergone a noticeable deterioration, with the increasing abuse of this unique Park by unsanctioned, uncontrolled human activities.   Wild animals and the Park’s fragile ecosystems are suffering from the impacts of human behaviour.


It has been noted that the perpetrators of the abuse are a relatively small percentage of the local and foreign visiting public as well as some tour operators.  It would be a travesty if, as custodians alongside Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA), we allow the situation to deteriorate. This would inevitably result in draconian restrictions being imposed on tourism, thus reducing the area to a “typical game park” as opposed to a singularly unique environment with global significance as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Zambezi Society has met with tour operators and we are busy working on a collaborative set of recommendations to present to National Parks to use as guidelines for “self enforcement”.  We would appreciate feedback from members of the visiting public who are familiar with Mana Pools.

We intend to:-

1.           Reconstitute the available Codes of Conduct and enhance deficient areas of concern

2.            Develop a document for discussions between Tour Operators, The Zambezi Society and National Parks

3.            Develop a protocol of binding principles for tour operators which could then be used as a benchmark for “fair and ethical behaviour”

4.            Develop a protocol of binding principles for all users of Mana Pools National Park

5.            Develop a reporting and monitoring protocol, with agreements on “self regulation”.

6.            Consider the resuscitation of the “Honorary Warden” concept

The Zambezi Society is committed to this process, and as a follow-through would arrange printing, and appropriate distribution, of all the relevant materials.

Please take a few minutes to answer all or some of the following questions/observations.

1.         Please give us your name and e-mail contact address.

2.         When did you last visit the Park?

3.         How frequently do you visit the Park?

4.         Have you observed:-

  • Flagrant disregard of the National Park rules including, but not limited to, off road driving, vehicular encroachment of animal space, the inappropriate use of spotlights, music and rowdiness in the campsites etc?   (Add any details).
  • Inappropriate behaviour by visitors or operators with wildlife observation, photography of dens etc?   (Add details)
  • Disregard of exclusive camps and tour operator camps’ right to privacy?   (Add any details.)
  • Private armed escorts for individual groups privately booked (i.e. tour operators operating without official licensing)  (Add details)

5.         Have you experienced:-

  • The impact of ration hunting by ZPWMA?  (Add details)

6.         Do you have any comments on the efficiency (or otherwise) of Park staff

7.         What is your stand on adding additional public and/or operator campsites and the impact this would have on animal access to the river?

We suggest that you copy the above questions into an e-mail, add your replies, title the e-mail MANA CONSULTATION RESPONSE and send to The Zambezi Society at

Thank you for your participation in this valuable exercise, we greatly appreciate it!




Chitake Springs, near the southern boundary of Mana Pools National Park, has undergone a noticeable deterioration, particularly with regard to the thoughtless and intrusive impact of human behaviour.  The Spring is a fragile ecosystem and the animals are hostage to the precious water from the Spring.  Human intrusion should be kept to a minimum in such an environment.


The Zambezi Society does not wish the situation at Chitake to deteriorate further.  We have met with tour operators and are busy working on a collaborative set of recommendations to present to National Parks to use as guidelines for “self enforcement”.  We would appreciate feedback from members of the visiting public who are familiar with Mana Pools and Chitake in particular.

We intend to:-

1.           Reconstitute the available Codes of Conduct and enhance deficient areas of concern

2.            Develop a document for discussions between Tour Operators, The Zambezi Society and National Parks

3.            Develop a protocol of binding principles for tour operators which could then be used as a benchmark for “fair and ethical behaviour”

4.            Develop a protocol of binding principles for all users of Mana Pools National Park

5.            Develop a reporting and monitoring protocol, with agreements on “self regulation”.

6.            Consider the resuscitation of the “Honorary Warden” concept

The Zambezi Society is committed to this process, and as a follow-through would arrange printing, and appropriate distribution, of all the relevant materials.

Please can you comment on the following:

1.            Please give us your name and e-mail contact address.

2.            When did you last visit the Park/Chitake?

3.            How often do you visit the Park/Chitake

4.            Parks have put a road which they use to deploy scouts into the base of the escarpment. This road runs very adjacent to the Eastern rim of the Spring and is now being used by visitors for game viewing. This road cuts directly across the main game access paths and is proving extremely disruptive.   We believe this road should either be moved or closed.

5.            Driving along the river bed happens from time to time. This is strictly forbidden and we, as users of the Spring, should report any breach of this and ensure that Parks fine the perpetrators.

6.            Animals should be given right of way and when drinking, and at all times should not be disturbed.   It has been reported that visitors and certain tour operators, in pursuit of photographs cause animals to flee before they have been able to quench their thirst. We need to demand that human visitors and operators respect wildlife.

7.            Certain tour operators with their clients encroach too close to lion in pursuit of dramatic photographs. This may be one of the causes of some reports of brazen lion activity.  This should be reported.

8.            Noise, music and use of non-tempered spotlights should be banned.

9.            Ash from campsites should be buried, rubbish removed and faeces buried.

10.          The number of visitors per campsite should be restricted to a maximum of 8.

11.          Chitake is essentially a “walking” and stationary viewing location. Driving is discouraged and off-road driving is a serious offence. National Parks and the Zambezi Society should ensure that the Spring is marketed as such. Foreign tourists are often surprised that they cannot drive and hence misbehave, causing disruption and disturbance to wildlife and the environment.

We suggest that you copy the above questions into an e-mail, add your replies, title the e-mail CHITAKE CONSULTATION RESPONSE and send to The Zambezi Society at

Thank you for your participation in this valuable exercise, we greatly appreciate it!


We ask you to please sign the Zambezi Society petition against open-cast copper mining in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park opposite the Mana Pools/Sapi/Chewore World Heritage Site. You can find the petition HERE



We need to stop this outrageous project!  The Zambian environmental authorities are against it.  But their politicians have over-ruled their advice.

The project ignores important international conservation protocols.  We cannot afford to allow a precedent to be set in the region.


The Zambezi Society mourns the passing of one of Southern Africa’s greatest conservationists, Dr Ian Player

Dr Ian Player, who died on 30th November aged 87, was a true inspiration and role-model for us all in Southern African conservation, especially those of us involved in wilderness conservation and the efforts to save our highly endangered rhinos.


Our Society participated in two international Wilderness Congresses – in South Africa and in Alaska and we developed lasting partnerships with the WILD Foundation and the Wilderness Action Group – both organisations founded on Dr Player’s extraordinary dedication to the wildernesses of Southern Africa.

In the 1960s there was an estimated 650 white rhinos in Africa; by 2010 the population numbered 18 800. The very man initiated and led an operation (Operation Rhino) along with his right-hand man, friend and brother, Magquba Ntombela, that helped save this iconic animal from extinction. It is because of Dr Ian Player that there are still rhinos around for us to save. Let us not let him down!


It is extremely sad that such a tower of strength and purpose has left our conservation community.  But there is consolation in the fact that his inspiring example and extraordinary legacy remain with us as a guiding light for those who come next.


Please share this PRESS RELEASE widely!

Representatives of Zimbabwean civil society have expressed support for their counterparts in Zambia who are opposing the Kangaluwi open-pit copper mining project (and associated road construction) slated for the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. This lies across the Zambezi River from Mana Pools National Park, the Mana Pools/Sapi/Chewore World Heritage Site and the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve) (see image below).

They are calling on the Zimbabwean Minister of the Environment to engage with his counterpart in Zambia to encourage him to adhere to international law regarding Protected Areas and put a final stop to the controversial proposal.

Zambia’s Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the Zambian Ministry of Tourism, traditional leaders, communities, stakeholders and independent experts rejected the project. But in January 2014, Zambia’s then Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection over-ruled this objection and allowed the project to go ahead. A court challenge was subsequently mounted by the Zambia Community Natural Resources Management Forum (ZCBNRM), putting the project on hold.

The Zambian Court is due to meet for a hearing on the subject this Monday ( 17th November), to decide if the mining company should be allowed to go ahead anyway, despite opposition.

Copper Mining in Lower Zambezi National Park

At the invitation of the Zimbabwe CBNRM Forum and The Zambezi Society, a group of 40 Zimbabwean Civil Society representatives met on 13th November at a briefing workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe and agreed to submit an urgent petition to their Environment Minister.
They support the Zambian opposition to this mine for the following reasons:-

1. The project ignores the customary international law obligation arising from Principle 21/2 of the Stockholm and Rio Declarations respectively, which provides that “States have sovereignty over their natural resources and the responsibility not to cause environmental damage to the environment of other states or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction”. It also ignores similar requirements in several SADC Protocols (e.g. Mining, Biodiversity, Shared Watercourses, Wildlife Conservation, Forestry etc). The Lower Zambezi National Park lies within the ZIMOZA Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). Yet there is little evidence of consultation with Zimbabwe or other neighbouring states (e.g. Mozambique) on the potential impacts of this project on them.

2. A dangerous precedent is being set in the region if this mining project is allowed to go ahead.
• The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA or EIS) for the mine has been independently and expertly reviewed and found to be fundamentally flawed. It was also rejected by Zambia’s Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). Going ahead with the project undermines the principles of the EIA process.
• International and national legislation has been ignored (even abused) in this case. The mining company (Australian) appears to be attempting to exploit Africa’s resources by taking advantage of loopholes in national legislation and avoiding the accountability that they would face back home.
• An open-cast copper mine allowed to proceed in a major National Park/TFCA in the region and potentially impacting on a neighbouring UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve opens the door to future mineral exploitation of Protected Areas throughout the region.

3. Apart from impacts within the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, this proposed mine would bring high, long-term risks to the health and well-being of communities, wildlife and environment in Zimbabwe (and Mozambique)
• The scenic, wilderness values of the Zambezi Valley (which have been the base of 50+ years of tourism development in this area on both sides of the river) would be reduced by visual and sound impacts from the mine and associated road infrastructure, spoiling the tourism experience.
• Pollution of ground and surface water by the mine could result in run-off into the Zambezi River, to the detriment of areas and populations downstream, including Zimbabwe’s World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve and Lake Cabora Bassa.
• An increased human population into the area from mine and road development will increase human-wildlife conflict situations. Stressed animals are not confined by international boundaries.
• More people in the area will increase wildlife poaching/snaring which is already a cross-boundary problem.
• The position of the mine will block the movement of animals such as wild dog and elephant along the corridor between the Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa National Parks, forcing them into settled lands (increased conflict) or into Zimbabwe or Mozambique.
• All these above impacts would prejudice the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve status that Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley areas currently enjoy, leading to a loss of almost 50 years of investment towards their ecological integrity. It would also destroy any chance of Zambia succeeding in its bid to achieve similar world recognition for the Lower Zambezi National Park.
• The envisaged life span of the project is about one decade, so the envisaged benefits to the Zambian people are short lived. However, the likely environmental damage to the whole trans-frontier area would be long lasting. This is economically and developmentally irresponsible for the region.


The trade and use of lion bones and other body parts across Africa


WildCRU and TRAFFIC recently completed an assessment of the South African trade in African Lion bones and other body parts after concerns were raised that derivatives from wild lions were being sold into Traditional Asian Medicine markets, especially as a substitute for tiger. The trade in lion derivatives in the rest of Africa has not been similarly documented. Hence, we are now undertaking a study of the evidence relating to the trade in lion body parts, and especially the source of parts in lion range states within the rest of Africa and, where possible, to quantify the amount of lion material that is available for sale on either local or international markets.

Invitation to Participate:
The questionnaire should take less than 15 minutes to complete and can be completed in English, French and Portuguese. To read more about the survey and to start the questionnaire, please visit the following links:

If you cannot complete an online version, please email us and we will send you a pdf.

For any queries, please email

Thank you for participating in our survey. Your feedback is important.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for Matusadona Wildlife Survey: 8-13 AUGUST!

Matusadona-Volunteers1 Matusadona-Volunteers2

Friends of the Zambezi Society may remember the volunteer  wildlife surveys that the Society successfully organised at in 2007 and 2008 (see pictures) in the Matusadona National Park in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority .

We are planning another such event over the Heroes Day weekend in August 2014, in order to survey for evidence of wildlife and the illicit removal of wildlife in the Matusadona National Park.

The dates are Friday 8th August to Wednesday 13 August 2013.

We are looking for 7 volunteer teams to assist in this exercise. Each team needs at least 2 to 3 people who are fit, can map read and use a GPS, are fully self contained to camp and walk in the bush for 4 days and have 4 wheel drive transport. Each team will be accompanied by an armed National Parks officer.

This is an important exercise, but also a chance to have a real wilderness experience while contributing some skills and support to the Matusadona National Park.

If you are interested, please can you communicate urgently with Frances Morris or Pete Musto as follows:-

Frances Morris  +263 772 308172 

Pete Musto +263 772 249434

Matusadona Anti-Poaching: ZAMSOC's role


The Zambezi Society considers poaching of fish and wildlife resources to be a MAJOR challenge in the Matusadona National Park, and we will continue to channel all possible support to the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority in addressing it.

We are also collaborating with the Matusadona Anti-Poaching Project (MAPP) and The Tashinga Initiative (TTI) to streamine the input of scarce resources towards this protection.

In March this year, the Parks and Wildlife Authority hosted a Matusadona Stakeholders Workshop which brought together MAPP, TTI, The Zambezi Society, Rhino Safari Camp (a local tour operation) and CAMPFIRE (Community natural resource management project). This set a focus for collaborative anti-poaching activities in the Matusadona National Park for the next year.

In April, with funds raised by Chisipite Junior School, The Balmain Trust, and other sources, the Society purchased this good-condition second-hand Landcruiser (pictured here) and has deployed it within the Park on loan to MAPP to assist with on-the-ground anti-poaching activities.   Meanwhile, Society personnel, working with MAPP and the Parks Authority in the field, have deployed a number of camera traps at strategic points around the Park in order to capture evidence of wildlife and human movement (see below).


Over the past two months, the anti-poaching efforts in the Matusadona have born fruit, with the arrest of a number of Zambian fish poachers and land-based elephant poachers.  We wish to congratulate MAPP, TTI, the Parks Authority and all concerned and thank them for their commitment to a task that is both dangerous and high-risk.

We would also like to thank the following for their continuing assistance:-

SAVE (Australia) – for providing camera traps (currently in use by MAPP), vehicles and financial support

REDAN Petroleum – for providing a continuous supply of fuel for our operations

KW Blasting – for providing the time and services of their mechanic, who recently spent a second week at Tashinga (Matusadona Parks HQ) repairing and servicing Parks and other stakeholder vehicles

Zimbabwe's new RAMSAR Wetlands Sites:
Information factsheets produced


Last year, seven important wetland sites in Zimbabwe were newly added to the RAMSAR Convention’s List of Wetlands of International Importance.  The seven are :-

  • Victoria Falls National Park,
  • Mana Pools National Park,
  • Monavale Wetland,
  • Lakes Chivero and Manyame,
  • Driefontein Grasslands,
  • Chinhoyi Caves, and
  • Cleveland Dam.

Accession to the RAMSAR List is recognised by conservation organisations and governments worldwide as an important step in helping to protect these vulnerable wetland areas into the future.

Ramsar Mana pools factsheet thumbnail

Another important step is education:  To this end, a series of information factsheets for each of these important sites has been produced by a committee of public and private stakeholders, which includes The Zambezi Society.

The Factsheet about the Mana Pools RAMSAR site was prepared by the Zambezi Society, and we thank our Education Officer, Leslee Maasdorp, for her hard work in completing this.

The Factsheet about the Mana Pools RAMSAR site is now available for DOWNLOAD HERE


In the meantime, the Zambezi Society, through the National Wetlands Committee, is preparing a proposal to the RAMSAR secretariat’s Small Grants Fund for assistance with gather information about the biodiversity of two important river systems in Mana Pools National Park - the Ruckomechi and Chitake rivers – and identifying threats (such as mining and wildlife poaching) faced by these important watersources.

Chitake Spring, Mana Pools:
Guidelines for respecting this wonderful wilderness


The extraordinary natural spring on the Chitake River in the southern part of Mana Pools National Park, near the Zambezi escarpment mountains, is a life-giving source of water for hundreds of wild animals during the driest months of the year (see picture above left – courtesy of Sunpath Safaris).

The small “exclusive” National Parks campsites at Chitake are popular with tour operators and self-drive visitors.  However, since this area is exremely confined and remote and one of the truly wild places of the Park, it is important for visitors to be educated so that their behaviour and presence does not put anyone in danger, annoy other visitors or (most importantly) impinge on the wildlife and wilderness qualities of this wonderful place.

Sadly, there are all too often reports of visitor abuse at Chitake.

  • Rubbish, toilet paper and campfire ash is left in the open, unburied (above right);
  • illegal, off-road driving (especially in the riverbed in the vicinity of the spring itself) is evident from tell-tale vehicle tyre-tracks (above centre);
  • officially designated campsites are ignored by visitors who site themselves in areas which are dangerous and/or intrusive to wildlife accessing the spring.

Chitaka-Guidelines-leaflet-In an effort to educate visitors about the National Parks regulations for this area, and to protect Chitake’s unique wilderness values, the group ”Friends of Chitake”, through The Zambezi Society has created a list of Guidelines for Visitors in the form of a small A5 leaflet (see left).

A copy of this leaflet can be found HERE (opens in a new window).  

We encourage readers to share these Guidelines widely via e-mail and Social Media.

Anyone who is interested in visiting Chitake Spring (or any wilderness area, for that matter) should be made aware of these regulations, and should also read the Zambezi Society’s RESPECT THE WILD Code Of Conduct for Visitors to Wild Areas, which can be found on our website on our Publications Page or on Wild

More wildlife outreach for rural schools


This year, six new rural primary schools in remote areas have received illustrated “Endangered Wildlife” information files and other educational
materials produced by The Zambezi Society’s Education Officer, Mrs Leslee Maasdorp (pictured above left with one of the files).

Resupplies of these informative, illustrated teaching aids have also been provided to several schools which had previously received them, but have requested more.

Leslee is also delighted to report that that Nyamakati Primary School which is a large school of around 1500 pupils and lies to the south of the Zambezi valley wildlife areas has recently joined the Society’s Wildlife Outreach Programme. The school has an enthusastic staff member who runs an active Environmental Club.

Meanwhile, primary school pupils at several National Parks stations in the Zambezi Valley continue to benefit once a year from a week’s sponsored attendance at the RIFA Wilderness Educational Camp in Chirundu, where Leslee Maasdorp provides them with wildlife awareness lessons and wonderful practical experiences in the field (pictured above right).

Zimbabwe's elephant survey begins in the Zambezi Valley


We reported in a previous Bulletin on a planned 2014 survey of elephants in thirteen African countries, co-ordinated by Botswana-based organisation Elephants Without Borders and funded by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft.

Known as the Great Elephant Census, this project aims to calculate how many African elephants actually remain, where they are found, what threats they face and whether their total population numbers are in fact increasing or decreasing.

The good news is that the work on surveying Zimbabwe’s elephant population has already begun in the Zambezi Valley, as a joint initiative with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

We hope to report more on this important Census in the future.

The Current Demand for Rhino Horn: Two Important Points:



Demand-for-rhino-hornRecent research conducted by TRAFFIC, (the international wildlife trade monitoring network) has been neatly summarised in a useful reference workbook for tour guides, teachers and the general public, produced in Australia by Dr Lynn Johnson for the Breaking the Brand project.  This is aimed at getting to the bottom of the illegal trade in rhino horn and correcting some of the mis-perceptions that are clouding our decisions as to how to combat it.   Here are some extracts from it:-

“Demand for rhino horn began to increase rapidly from 2008.   Outlined in this workbook is the background to what is driving the current rhino poaching crisis. We hope that this gives you the information to help inform tourists and your community about where the majority of the demand is coming from.  Only through knowing the real and full picture can we engage people to challenge the current users to stop buying rhino horn. As long as old myths persist, we will struggle to get the necessary behaviour change to secure the survival of rhinos in the wild.

So who are the current users of rhino horn and where do they come from?

Historically, China has been a key market for rhino horn. But research by organisations such as TRAFFIC show that the main customers for rhino horn, driving the current poaching crisis, live in Vietnam.

Both China and Vietnam have experienced strong economic growth in the last 2 decades and the number of wealthy people is continuously increasing.

  • China experienced continuous and rapid economic growth since around 1993
  • Vietnam experienced continuous economic growth, which has accelerated since 2003.

Undoubtedly, some of the rhinos killed in Africa and Asia will go to the Chinese medicine trade and efforts need to continue to bring this to an end. However, this is likely to be a small percentage of the rhinos being poached.  We need to consider that even though wealth in China started to grow steeply from 1993, there was no evidence that this affected the rhino poaching numbers, at least in South Africa, for 15 years.

So this indicates that the recent spike in demand for rhino horn is not strongly associated with use in traditional Chinese medicine. Often people feel that they can’t challenge something so old and entrenched as medicinal practices going back many hundreds of years. So it is useful to know that what is driving the current demand is a new fashion in a young population –  70% of people in Vietnam are under the age of 35 years.   From a brand breaking and demand reduction perspective it is much better that the spike in rhino horn demand is a new trend/fad – this makes it easier to stop. This is the case for users in Vietnam.

Current measures to save the rhino are underway throughout the protection – supply – demand chain.   We would recommend additional focus on changing the purchasing behaviour of the primary users of rhino horn to reduce demand and save rhinos from extinction in the wild.

Given this, it is important to know the primary users driving the current poaching levels:

  1. They live in Vietnam, mainly in the wealthy suburbs of Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City
  2. They are businessmen and affluent mothers (probably the wives of the businessmen)   (Wealthy businessmen give rhino horn as a gift to negotiate business deals or to gain favours, or they grind it into water to use as detox drink at the end of a night of socialising with peers.  It is a status symbol, they know that there is no health benefit.   Affluent mothers give it to children as a health supplement /medication and also buy it for aging /sick parents.)
  3. The value of rhino horn is mainly symbolic and a new fashion; it is not entrenched in ancient culture.
  4. 70% of the Vietnamese population is under the age of 35 years
  5. There are only about 20,000 users of genuine rhino: a. 5,000 – 10,000 businessmen (who use the largest amount) and b. Their wives who are likely to be buying a mixture of genuine and fake rhino horn for their children and aging parents
  6. 90% of all rhino horn sold in Vietnam is fake, e.g. buffalo horn from China. Not being able to distinguish real rhino horn from fake is likely to be helping the rhino’s survival
  7. The users only have 2 motivations to stop: a. Negative impact on their personal status  b. Negative impact on their personal health and health of family and associates

The users have no or very little empathy with the animal. Campaigns in the form of an appeal to ‘protect a species’ will, in the main, be ignored by the users of rhino horn.

Importantly, there is no pressure on the users in Vietnam to stop buying rhino horn if China is constantly put forward as the driver of rhino poaching. This allows the Vietnamese users of rhino horn to ‘fly under the radar’. As a result they receive minimal pressure to change their buying habits.

For more information, see

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