Breaking The Brand is delighted to have a guest blogger, Caroline Bertin. Caroline is a supporter of and donor to Breaking The Brand. Caroline is based in the UK and we were delighted that she headed along to the rhino horn pro-trade/no-trade debate, presented earlier this month. John Hume, South Africa’s largest private rhino breeder put forward the pro-argument while Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation presented the opposing view. This blog presents the observations of someone who has invested their time in understanding this complex issue, she recently spent time volunteering at TRAFFIC in Hanoi. Like so many, Caroline wants to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel for rhinos and a way to save these magnificent animals from extinction in the wild. Here are Caroline’s observations from the event…… [Read more…]
Posts in the News Category
Breaking The Brand is now only weeks away from the launch of RhiNo Campaign 4. July 2016 saw the final publication from RhiNo Campaign 3 – What does a wildlife criminal look like?
Launched on the 4th January 2016, this was the first Breaking The Brand campaign aimed at triggering ‘status anxiety’ in the primary users. Since starting our interviews, with the primary users of rhino horn in 2013, status anxiety – if using rhino horn would diminish user’s status in the eyes of their peers – was one of only two reasons given that would cause this group to stop using rhino horn quickly enough to save the rhino from extinction in the wild.
The adverts asked: What does a wildlife criminal look like? and highlighted to people that if they had bought rhino horn recently it will have come from an illegal killed rhino.
Triggering status anxiety is not the same as triggering the fear of law enforcement. The approach taken in the ads is to diminish the businessman’s reputation in the eyes of his peers and the networks people he aspires to be a part of. Like all businessmen around the world, our target group is worried about the loss of their brand and reputation, and any resulting loss of career and business opportunities.
The advert also pointed to the fact that while in the past the focus had been on the poachers and traffickers of rhino horn, now more and more people are paying attention to the buyers. Given that the rhinos’ destruction is driven by the target groups desire to purchase rhino horn, the buyers must see themselves for what they are, wildlife criminals. The advert finishes with: If you buy rhino horn, you are a wildlife criminal. [Read more…]
As many of you know, I have long asked the people who believe in legalising the international trade in rhino horn to produce their business case and user analysis. The reason I have asked these questions is that since I started interviewing the primary users of rhino horn, driving the current rhino killing spree, it became apparent straight away that they don’t see horn from a farmed rhino as a substitute product.
I wrote about this in: http://breakingthebrand.org/farmed-rhino-horn-not-seen-as-substitute-product/ As I say in the blog: When I was in South Africa earlier this year (Feb 2015) all my meetings clearly showed that very few people understood the nature of the demand or the users of genuine rhino horn. This is obviously very concerning since the South African government appears to be actively pursuing a trade legalisation agenda and they are creating risk-benefit models for pro/anti trade decisions based on incomplete information.
Yes, I heard that southern white rhinos are easy to farm “They are just like cows” one person said, “easy to manage, like dogs” said another. Significantly, not enough people are asking the right questions: “Whilst we know that horns can be harvested for sale, are these the rhino horns that the wealthy users, driving the poaching of wild rhinos, will want to buy? Are farmed horns a substitute product for horns from wild rhinos to the primary user groups?” BTB’s research has always indicated a farmed product is not seen as a substitute product by the wealthy Vietnamese elite who can afford to buy genuine, wild rhino horn. They are interested in the wild ‘product’ and so while the demand remains the poaching will continue.
When this blog was posted on some of the pro-trade social media groups the pro-trade response was as expected, ‘lobbying 101 techniques’ of deflection and counter-attack, but not answering very basic business case questions: http://breakingthebrand.org/pro-trade-response-to-blog/ My statement at the end of the blog “Obviously the lack of any useful response means that there is neither the willingness nor the ability on the pro-trade side to engage with the real aspects of the debate. Similarly, if the response is silence this is also be very telling!” may have triggered an email I received from some in the pro-trade community, pointing me to two pieces of information “I would like to recommend the following links”. http://za.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issue=416351493&o=ext “And please watch this video”: https://vimeo.com/135540882 and asking me “We are striving to make a rhino worth more alive than dead. Will you join us in this cause?” [Read more…]
As a kid in the UK in the 70’s and 80’s, I was addicted to nature TV, Animal Magic, Survival, Wildlife on One, Life on Earth, Johnny Morris, David Bellamy and David Attenborough. The emerging debates at the time about how people needed to protect the natural world and how you could and should take action resonated with me. In parallel with this came Anita Roddick, an activist, environmental campaigner and Founder of The Body Shop. Though I never quite forgave her for selling The Body Shop to L’Oréal, I continued to follow her work; her book Take It Personally: How to Make Conscious Choices to Change the World is another reason I started Breaking The brand.
So when it comes to demand reduction for wild animals how can we take it personally and why do we need to?
Rhino Horn User Analysis and Pro-Trade/No-Trade Debate
As many of Breaking The Brand’s supporters know, I have long said that the pro-rhino-horn-trade proponents have no understanding of the current demand or users; I have not once seen any form of customer analysis, which I outlined in a previous blog post. Time and time again they have been asked to produce their user demand analysis and they haven’t; at least now they admit that they don’t understand the nature of the demand: http://rhinoalive.thinkmob.modxcloud.com/rhino-horn-trade-faq (pro-trade website)
and highlight their gobsmacking belief, I quote from their website ‘The best way to learn about the market is to engage it via legal trade.’ Wow, what can you say to that ridiculous statement!
The reality is that they have an agenda and simply don’t care as long as there is a market or one can be manufactured. In another piece of pro-trade propaganda (https://vimeo.com/135540882), one of their go-to economists, Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes states ‘What they [rhino horns] are used for is hardly relevant. The fact is that people are willing to pay.’ So it won’t be a surprise that Michael is connected with PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center who are developing a ‘free market environmentalism (FME)’ model. From a wildlife perspective their publications have titles such as: If it pays, it stays. I’m sure you are getting the picture. [Read more…]
When you add up everything that is being spent to save the rhino from extinction in the wild, then it would become a teeny tiny fraction of 1%. The vast majority of the money donated to rhino conservation is spent on the ground on protection measures – fencing, rangers, equipment, dehorning etc. Only a relatively small percentage is spent in demand countries. Of that percentage, again only a small fraction goes into what can be classed as demand reduction campaigns.
Breaking The Brand Basic Definitions
As an introduction to this blog, I must qualify Breaking The Brand’s definition of what constitutes a demand reduction campaign: It is a campaign that elicits an emotional response in the current user groups to such a level that it triggers them to stop using rhino horn in a time frame that is useful to save the rhino from extinction in the wild. The diagram below summarizes our definition of 4 types of campaigns, namely
- Awareness Raising
- Belief Challenging
- Demand Reduction (Behaviour Change)
Why is this definition critical? There are several reasons, but for the sake of this blog, I will stick to three. [Read more…]
As some BTB supporters already know, I recently began a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Australian National University working in the area of cultural anthropology. The focus of the research is: How do current and historical cultures ascribe status to wildlife ‘products’ and what turns them into luxury items? The aim is to understand how this process works; of particular interest is how this knowledge may be utilised to achieve the reverse effect – turning a current luxury item (such as rhino horn) back into something no longer considered a luxury or desirable. This insight can then form the basis for creating demand reduction initiatives.
As part of the initial literature search on the nature of luxury the concept of Magnificence vs. Luxury caught my attention. In its origins, luxury was not a term to describe consumption by elites, but one used to denigrate the aspirational consumer practices of the newly emerging wealthy classes1. In contrast, magnificence is related to the positive uses of wealth, i.e. doing something valuable for the public good. This started me thinking, in recent history (post the industrial revolution), are there examples of magnificence or is all we see self-serving luxury? [Read more…]
In an article I wrote in July 2015 Desire To Supply Rhino Horn Drives Manufacture Of Demand: I pointed out that while the South African government continues to keep the option of a legal trade in rhino horn on the table, the pro-trade lobby will focus on creating a ‘legal’ sales channel. To-date, the options discussed are:
- A legalisation of international trade, or
- A one-off sale of their stockpile, or
- Overturning the domestic trade ban in South Africa
Yet the real result of this ruling is to give hope to the pro-trade group that a legal trade, in one form or another, is still possible and it is worth their while to keep lobbying hard.
I, like many people around the world, was disgusted at the sales of rhino horn in Sydney and Melbourne last week. As someone who calls Australia home feeling ashamed of the stupidity, naivety, greed and ignorance that enables this to happen was also part of the list of emotions I experienced.
Having visited many rhino range countries and spoken with the people dealing with the tragedy of the current rhino slaughter, who are too regularly confronted with the death and mutilation of the rhinos in their care, I can only imagine how angry they must feel (http://www.sapeople.com/2015/10/28/stroop-should-rhino-horn-have-been-auctioned-in-australia/ at this uncaring act. Peter Fish’s first line in his Australian Financial Revive article reporting on the sales must have felt like someone was ‘rubbing salt into an open wound’ (http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/arts-and-entertainment/art/carved-rhino-horns-top-two-asian-art-sales-20151027-gkkdzp ). He started with “Rhinoceros horn might not be the most politically correct of collectibles”. Well No Shit Sherlock!
But before anyone accuses me of being overly emotional and reminds me that what these auction rooms did isn’t actually currently illegal under Australian law, let look at the facts. Legality of these auctions is based on provenance – being able to prove that the item being put up for auction falls outside the current prohibition of sale because of its pre-ban/antique status. [Read more…]
Pro-Trade Response to BTB Blog: Viet Nam’s wealthy buyers of rhino don’t see horn from farmed rhino as a substitute product. http://breakingthebrand.org/farmed-rhino-horn-not-seen-as-substitute-product/
Given that the blog talks about the wealthy Vietnamese elite who can afford genuine, wild rhino horn are not interested in a farmed ‘product’, which is a critical point in the legalised trade debate, it was not a surprises that this blog was shared with the group: The Great BIG NO Trade/PRO Trade Rhino Debate. So far it has generated 5 comments and 3 patterns of response:
- Not a single rhino in SA is not behind a fence
- Breaking The Brand has not produced the desired results
- Breaking The Brand wants donations
Before I responds to these three points, I just wanted to point out that no one commented on the two key statements that are critical for the case of farming/trading rhino horn (and here I am making that assumption that the primary objective is to stop poaching).
- While the demand for rhino horn remains, the poaching of rhinos from the wild will continue; farmed rhino will not help as it is not seen as a substitute product by the Vietnamese elite who can afford genuine, wild rhino horn.
- The Education for Nature Viet Nam adverts stated, mentioned in the blog, stated that legalising the trade could ignite an explosion in demand that could never be satisfied, let alone controlled. If the pro-trade people say that they disagree are they saying that ‘we know the Vietnamese better than the Vietnamese’, and if pro-trade people say they are better placed to analyse the Vietnamese users of rhino horn than ENV, then prove it. Why haven’t they published any user/market analysis they have done etc. Could it be that they haven’t done any???
So now let me respond to the three patterns from the comments. [Read more…]