In recognition of World Rhino Day on Thursday, September 22, the Wilderness Foundation hopes to reach the “10,000 names” benchmark on its international Save the Rhinos petition (www.wildernessfoundation.co.za/savetherhinos/).
To date, over 9,500 individuals have signed the petition, with comments including, “Don’t let the human race be responsible for the extinction of yet another species!” and “This shocking cruelty must be stopped immediately.”
The Wilderness Foundation launched the Forever Wild – Save the Rhinos campaign in May, 2011.
Assisted by Ogilvy Cape Town, and with the support of VW South Africa, the Wilderness Foundation launched the innovative petition to help give a voice to the public’s outcry over the cruelty of rhino poaching. The petition includes a 10-year ‘count-down to extinction’ timer, and for every signature on the petition, a minute is added to the timer. “We predict that at the current rate of poaching, rhinos in the wild may be extinct in ten years time,” says director of the Wilderness Foundation, Andrew Muir. “As the campaign says, ‘the last wild rhino to die may have already been born’. For every signature on the petition, one extra minute is added to the petition.”
Muir will be delivering the petition to over 30 US congressmen in the last week of October this year in order to bring the severity of the situation to the attention of international governments. This has been arranged by Wilderness Foundation partner, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) in Washington DC.
“We are calling for a global clampdown on poaching,” says Muir. “International laws need to be enforced, and the public needs to be made aware that rhino horn contains no medicinal properties whatsoever. As our founder, Dr Ian Player says, it is only through a global campaign and political will that we can save this remnant of the dinosaur age.”
Another innovative approach to highlighting the poaching crisis is Ogilvy’s YouTube clips “hijacking”. For two weeks, the company created over 55 YouTube clips – remixed versions of each day’s most frivolous trending videos (and some all time classics). Half way through the clips, a video of a rhino with its horn hacked off appears, and an appeal to sign the petition is raised.
“These Trojan Horses force people who actively search for these silly videos to confront the stark reality of how they are spending their time,” says the Ogilvy blog. “With $0 spent, signatures have so far increased by almost 300%. And it’s not over.”
The campaign is also engaging the public on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SaveTheRhino) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ForeverWildWF).
Together with the petition and international lobbying campaign, the Wilderness Foundation is also involved in supporting responsible conservation agencies with on-the-ground anti-poaching activities and investigations.
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