Volkswagen Group South Africa have been a staunch supporter of Wilderness Foundation Africa since June 2011, with an initial sponsorship of six Volkswagen Amarok bakkies to the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.
Now, Volkswagen Group SA’s chairman and managing director, Thomas Schaefer joins the WFA team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to introduce them to key role players in the motor vehicle and corporate industry, in order to further develop the highly successful Demand Reduction campaign to the corporate world.
VWSA support for WFA Demand Reduction Campaign
Wildlife crime is decimating populations of many of Africa’s iconic species of elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and pangolin threatening the very existence of Africa’s protected areas where ecotourism is a major GDP contributor. The alarming rise in rhino poaching stands at the forefront of this wildlife crime crisis. Currently approximately 4 800 black and 20 000 white rhino are fighting for their survival in the wild, with more than 80% of these rhinos found in South Africa.
The demand for rhino horn in Asian countries in particular has been identified as one of the main driving forces for the escalation in poaching of rhinos, with over 80% of poached rhino horn passing through Vietnam either for local use or for export to other countries.
In response to this, Wilderness Foundation Africa joined forces with Peace Parks Foundation to research, develop and implement a youth awareness and engagement campaign aimed at reducing the use of and demand for rhino horn in Vietnam.
The Wild Rhino demand reduction campaign utilizes three separate components to educate and engage Vietnamese youth on the issue of rhino poaching.
The overarching goal of these components, namely the Wild Rhino Competition, the Youth Ambassador Awareness and Education Campaign, and the Rhino Ranger Super Hero Campaign, is to incite passion for conservation, while motivating these young people to not use rhino horn. In addition, they are encouraged to assist in saving the rhino by becoming vocal ambassadors for the cause in their communities.
The demand reduction campaign, which has been active in 11 participating schools in Ho Chi Minh City since the launch of the first Wild Rhino Competition in 2014, has reached about 15 000 Vietnamese youth directly, and nearly 1 million youth indirectly through campaign and youth ambassador social media activities.
“Conservation NGO’s such as Wilderness Foundation Africa would not be able to continue the work that we do on a local, national and global scale without the support of corporates such as Volkswagen South Africa”, says Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa. “This partnership has exceeded the general NGO/Funder relationship, and we are grateful to the team at VWSA for their continued and loyal support of our various conservation initiatives”.
Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa Chairman and Managing Director says: “I am delighted that apart from our companies material support through the sponsorships of the Amaroks, I am able to contribute personally through though the contacts I have in that region due to having previously worked with many parties in a previous role”
Images: Volkswagen SA and Wilderness Foundation Africa