Saving the rhino through shame

Giving back: Lynn Johnson has put her significant expertise into helping stop the international rhinoceros horn trade. PICTURE: Supplied.

Giving back: Lynn Johnson has put her significant expertise into helping stop the international rhinoceros horn trade. PICTURE: Supplied.

Militarised poachers are wiping out more and more rhinoceroses in Africa and those on the ground have scrambled to protect the endangered animal. 

There is also an effort to stop demand for rhinoceros horn which in the end could prove the way to save them. 

Lynn Johnson from Daylesford has launched a project called Breaking the Brand to tackle that side of the problem.

The business coach said it was a matter of finding out why people want the horn and going from there. 

She has done this through interviews with Vietnamese businessmen, who use the horn as a sign of high social and financial status. 

“They use rhino horns to negotiate business deals,” she said. 

“It’s called a millionaire’s detox drink, where towards the end of a night they might grind a rhino horn into beer or wine.” 

“It’s saying ‘I can afford this, I’m someone to do business with’.” 

Dr Johnson said rhino cost US$100,000 per kilogram. 

From this basis, Dr Johnson has run advertisements in Vietnam since 2014 in places like the Vietnam Airlines in-flight magazine. 

She has run three campaigns in the rhinoceros project’s 18-month lifespan. 

They show the end user as well as hard-hitting pictures of rhinoceroses. 

One she sent to The Courier was a strong juxtaposition: the end user with the caption ‘So he can save face’ next to a rhinoceros with its horn ripped captioned ‘he loses face’. 

She said tackling demand was the best way to save rhinoceroses, despite some discomfort from with the conservation movement for her methods. 

“It’s really about understanding (buyers’) motivations and using those techniques to bring on behaviour change,” she said. 

She said bringing on peer pressure to stop using rhino horn was the only was, as the super-rich in Vietnam were not concerned that their behaviour was illegal. 

Dr Johnson will appear at the Ballarat Speakers Club on April 14, at the Ballarat Golf Club at 12pm. 

www.meetup.com/Ballarat-Speakers-Club/