Waterlines: Confluence and Hope through Environmental Communication. The 15th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE). June 17-21, 2019, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

ENGO framing of Vietnam's responsibility in the illegal rhino horn trade

Michael Smith's picture
Michael Smith
Category of presentation: 
Scholarly papers

The world’s largest population of rhinos in South Africa are being poached at over 1000 a year to supply a market for rhino horn in Vietnam. Can the media play a role in saving the rhino? This paper draws on and further develops a Master of Arts thesis on the press release framing of rhino horn demand reduction campaigns in Vietnam by Environmental Non-Government Organisations (ENGOs). The paper reviews the literature and addresses three key research questions from the original thesis about the identity of the frames, the cultural and other factors that influence the production of the frames and the efficacy of the frames used in the campaigns of ENGOs. In addition, the paper explores the potential ethical issues at the intersection of baseline or scholarly research of the illegal practice of using rhino horn and the use of collected data in the media. It uses a mixed method approach of framing analysis of ENGO press releases and semi-structured interviews with ENGO personnel to address the research questions. By investigating the source strategies and cultural and external factors influencing ENGO framing of Vietnam’s responsibility for rhino poaching in Africa , this study illuminates challenges facing ENGOs to make the rhino crisis in Africa pertinent to the Vietnamese public, suggesting the benefits of including statistical evidence of rhino horn trade and consumption in Vietnam in ENGO press releases and other ways of framing to achieve improved outcomes combatting worldwide illegal trade in wildlife.