'Bust the Myth - Save the Species' Global Rhino Crisis Awareness Campaign Launched

'Bust the Myth - Save the Species' is a global public awareness campaign calling for a coalition approach to debunking the rhino horn medicine myth. The campaign's purpose is to curb demand, disrupt the illegal trade, and halt the rhino crisis.

Saving Rhinos LLC, leading publisher of public awareness content about the illegal rhino horn trade, announces the launch the of "Bust the Myth - Save the Species", a global campaign calling for a coalition approach to debunking the rhino horn medicine myth.

Founder and CEO of Saving Rhinos, Rhishja Larson, explains that the continued use of illegal rhino horn in China and Vietnam is behind the escalation of rhino killings which has hit South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nepal, and most recently, Swaziland. Thefts of antique rhino horns have also occurred in the UK.

"Until we acknowledge the root of the rhino crisis, we cannot take real steps to solve it."

Rhino horn has been rigorously analyzed by institutions such as Hoffmann LaRoche and the Zoological Society of London, and has been found to contain no medicinal properties.

Despite the scientific evidence, myths about rhino horn are persistent. Although the effects of consuming rhino horn are the same as "chewing fingernails", it is touted in parts of Asia as a cure for everything from fever to acne to cancer.

As a result, over 160 rhinos have been killed worldwide during the first six months of 2011.

The incidents have been attributed to sophisticated organized crime syndicates with ties to the wildlife community, which often operate by exploiting complicated legal trade loopholes.

A coalition approach

Larson points out that several different entities - from established NGOs to informal social media groups - are trying to focus the public's attention on the rhino crisis. She says these efforts could be even more effective with a unified core message.

"We need to get on the same page once and for all. It's time for NGOs, zoos, educational institutions, traditional media, social media, and the public to stand together and bust the rhino horn myth. Rhino horn has no medicinal properties, no curative benefits, and no magical powers."

A sustained, united, and high-profile effort to mitigate medical myths about rhino horn, says Larson, will help to curb demand and ultimately disrupt the illegal trade.

Larson recommends disseminating the core message via a variety of communication channels.

"The core message can be delivered in a variety of ways by any organization or individual that wants to help. For example, websites, classrooms, social media, print, videos, merchandise, docents, and volunteers are all potential communication channels for discussing and debunking the rhino horn medicine myth."

Trilingual message

Although illegal rhino horn is primarily destined for use in China and Vietnam, conservationists in those two countries are keen to add their voices against the use of rhino horn.

Saving Rhinos has created t-shirts, posters, and social media avatars displaying the message "Bust the Myth - Save the Species" in Chinese (Mandarin) and Vietnamese, in addition to English.

"Based on requests for translated materials, as well as website traffic data, we have translated the 'Bust the Myth - Save the Species' campaign message into Mandarin and Vietnamese."

Communicating the campaign message in Mandarin and Vietnamese, according to Larson, gives conservationists new tools to help raise awareness in their own communities, both online and offline.

"Bust the Myth - Save the Species" posters and t-shirts in English, Mandarin, and Vietnamese are available from the Saving Rhinos website.

Visit the Saving Rhinos website at savingrhinos.org and the company blog "Rhino Horn is Not Medicine" to learn more.

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