Exploring the effective use of celebrities in wildlife demand reduction: changing perceptions of pangolins in Vietnam

Postdoctoral Researcher: Dan Challender

Period: April 2018 – March 2021

Funder: National Geographic Society

Other researchers: E.J. Milner-Gulland, Alegria Olmedo, Diogo Verissimo

Collaborators: Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, Sun-Yat Sen University, Fauna and Flora International, Zoological Society of London

 

Background

Pangolins have long been used and traded internationally, but in the last two decades there have been record levels of illegal trade in the animals and their derivatives. China and Vietnam have been identified as key consumer countries driving the international trafficking from both Asian and African countries. In order to reduce demand for wildlife products traded illegally, including pangolins, celebrities are often used to influence the public, to increase awareness, or to change consumer attitudes and behaviour. However, there is little evidence of the effectiveness of celebrity associated demand reduction campaigns reducing consumption of illegal wildlife products. Complicating efforts to reduce demand for pangolin products is the emergence of pangolin farming which has started to receive substantial investment as a supply-side solution in Asia and Africa. Yet, there is little knowledge or understanding about the impact this will have on consumer demand and on wild populations.  

 

Postdoc Overview:

There is an absence of evidence of the effectiveness of celebrity associated behaviour change campaigns measurably reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife. This research aims to develop an understanding of demand for pangolin products in Vietnam, including demographic profiles of consumers, and their preferences, motivations and knowledge of pangolin products. It will inform a celebrity-based demand reduction campaign that will be tested using an experimental approach in Vietnam and its impact measured. The results from this case study will inform international policy-makers and be transferable beyond the illegal wildlife trade. Complicating efforts to change behaviour regarding pangolin products is the emergence of pangolin farming, which has the potential to undermine demand reduction efforts. This research also aims to examine the potential effects of pangolin farming on consumer demand, current trade dynamics and wild populations under different policy scenarios. 

 

Outline of research

The objectives of this research are:

  1. To understand the consumption of pangolin products in Vietnam, for food, medicine and other applications and the demographic profiles, characteristics and motivations of consumers, in order to implement a celebrity associated demand reduction campaign for chosen products and evaluate its impact.
  2. To examine the potential effects on the wild-caught trade in pangolins of the growing trend for farming of pangolins, in Africa and Asia.

 

Summary of planned activities: 

Year 1

Conduct baseline research on consumption of pangolin products in Vietnam to understand the demographic profiles, characteristics and motivations of consumers.

Year 2

Collection of data and development of bioeconomic models to evaluate the impact of pangolin farming on demand and on wild populations under different policy scenarios.  

Year 3

Dissemination of results and outputs to Vietnamese government agencies and the international conservation community (e.g., CITES, IUCN).

 

Project outputs:

  • Technical reports, policy briefs and information documents to be submitted to international policy forums (e.g., CITES meetings, IUCN) to inform decision-making.
  • Research papers on consumers of pangolin products in Vietnam and on the impact of pangolin farming on consumer demand and wild populations under different policy scenarios. 

Links to wider project

Oxford Martin Programme on the Illegal Wildlife Trade  

Case study #5

 

 

Dan