13 Aug 2019
This project aims to generate insights to reduce demand for rhino horn in Vietnam, which has fuelled the poaching crisis and contributed to pushing the remaining rhino populations to the brink of extinction. We will use state-of-the-art methods to study rhino horn consumers through a combination of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, the Moral Foundations Theory, and Choice Experiments. The study design is built upon two of our publications and a sample of 608 rhino horn consumers from prior studies. Our project has received support from the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, the CITES Management Authority, other researchers and experts.
Illegal trade in wildlife products poses a significant threat to the survival of rhino populations with predicted extinction in 20 years. The trade is fuelled by growing demand in Asian markets involving organized criminal syndicates. In Vietnam, demand for rhino horn is high, particularly in the upper part of the income distribution. Considerable effort has been invested in campaigns to reduce demand for rhino horn. However, in a recent publication the applicant shows that these campaigns are likely to under perform due to failures in determining the specific values that consumers place on rhino horn. Effective demand reduction strategies require a firm understanding of the factors that influence consumers’ intention to purchase this good. Further research into Asian consumers’ behavior is therefore essential to inform effective interventions. However, despite the urgency of understanding the drivers of demand for rhino horn, studies evaluating the elasticity of demand, the relative importance of various attributes of consumers’ choice to purchase rhino horn and what will most effectively reduce individual demand for this good are lacking. This is likely to depend on a range of other aspects than price, including peer opinion, enforcement and alternatives.
This project aims to reveal determinants of demand for rhino horn amongst Vietnamese consumers. First, we will conduct a systematic review and meta-summary of the literature to identify aspects that predispose Vietnamese consumers to demand illegal wildlife products. We will also conduct interviews and focus groups with CITES leaders, researchers, and experts. Second, we will employ the Moral Foundations Theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour to model and study the relative importance of various socio-psychological drivers of individual demand for rhino horn. Third, we will develop a Choice Experiment to evaluate what interventions will most effectively reduce demand for rhino horn and to assess under which conditions Vietnamese consumers will comply with a ban on the illegal trade of rhino horn if a legal trade was established. Results of this study will feed directly into the design of optimally targeted consumer behavior modification strategies and contribute to policy making. The project will also constitute an important academic contribution to understanding Asian culture and consumerism in relation to wildlife products. In the long term, the methodology and insights from this study will furthermore be applicable to investigating consumer behaviors towards other illicit wildlife products (e.g. tiger and pangolin).