In an effort to combat the illegal trade in rhino horn a communication campaign aimed at Chinese and Vietnamese audiences was launched today featuring popular Chinese film star and martial artist Jackie Chan.
Chan’s influence was demonstrated recently by his association with a campaign to save sharks. It resulted in an 18% drop in the consumption of shark fin soup in China. Chan is particularly popular in Vietnam, a region largely responsible for the recent escalation in rhino poaching due to Vietnam’s rising wealth. It might very well be star power which is needed to change Vietnamese attitudes towards the endangered animal.
The campaign which includes a 40 second film and a series of billboards will be released in China after today’s launch and converted to Vietnamese for release there in March. The film called “Tools of the Trade” features Chan dodging weapons as a ‘rhino’ is built out of the dangerous tools of the poaching trade. After the ‘rhino’ is assembled, it collapses under its own weight, and a live rhino (nicknamed “Spike”) rises from the pile of weaponry. The message closes as Chan appeals to viewers not to buy rhino horn products. The film will also been released online in Mandarin, Vietnamese and English (seen here).
The campaign comes at a time when there is increased international effort to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. Yesterday the White House announced a ban on ivory trade, significant because the USA is the second largest ivory market after China. On the same day, the Duke of Cambridge launched a new organisation, United for Wildlife, to combat illegal trade and today, African heads of state and officials from 50 countries gathered in London for a conference on illegal wildlife trade where the leaders of Botswana, Gabon, Chad and Tanzania pledged to honour a 10 year moratorium on sales of ivory.
In a speech at the conference, the Duke of Cambridge emphasised the scale of illegal wildlife. “The trade is now the fourth most lucrative crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking,” he said. He described the human cost with over a thousand rangers killed in the last ten years and every week another two rangers murdered by poachers, adding, “there is also evidence that poacher’s activities are funding international terrorism.” The Duke also made a point of thanking Jackie Chan for his help in this issue.
Can the martial arts star really combat rhino poaching? Not on the killing grounds of Africa, but Chan’s celebrity firepower might go some way to tackling the issue at it’s very core, in the minds of Asians.