Love The Black Rhino
East & Southern Africa
This 17-year-old male has done well to make it this far in life. Poaching seems to be everywhere. He is always looking over his shoulder for another human with a gun who can see only money through their eyes. He should be safe since he has no natural predators but he never does. He wishes that one day he can live in peace and not have to worry that someone will kill him for his horns.
The black rhino is the smaller of the two African species. Even though they are called ‘black’ they are actually brown to grey. They are browsers and spend their time munching on leaves from bushes and trees, aided by the pointed shape of their lip. They have two horns on their skull with the front one a bit longer, and sometimes a third, a small posterior horn. Even though they are vegetarians, they can weigh between 800-1,400 kg, with one unusually large male being measured at 2,896 kg!
Black rhinos are generally solitary animals but they are not territorial, often having intersecting territories with many other rhinos. They are known to be extremely aggressive and if they see a threat, they will charge it down. Sometimes a threat may only be a tree but you never can be too careful! With no natural predators, these hardy animals can still be a threat to themselves, fighting with each other and racking up the highest death rate recorded for any mammal with 50% of males and 30% of females dying from injuries during the fight.
To find a fertile female, a male black rhino will follow the scent of dung piles that a female has made. Once mated, the female will give birth to one calf who weighs about 35-50 kg. The calf can walk and follow its mother only 3 days after it was born. It is at risk from hyenas and lions so will need to stay close to their mother who will aggressively protect them. The mother and her calf will stay together for 2-3 years when the mother gives birth again.
Black rhino populations were decimated in the 20th century because of poaching by European hunters. Between 1960-95 their numbers dropped 98% hitting a low of 2,500. Now, because of intense conservation efforts, their populations have increased and are currently around 5,600. Still, they are very threatened. Poaching is their number one threat. With the huge amount of money that can be made from their horns on the black market, rhinos are a target, and since black rhinos have two horns, they’re a great option for poachers. Even though it has been scientifically proven that there are no health benefits of ingesting rhino horn, the trade is still thriving, particularly in China and Vietnam, which threatens all the amazing conservation work that has been done so far. Habitat loss and fragmentation is also a major issue with agriculture, human settlements, and industrial projects encroaching on the rhino’s home.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtag #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/SOURCES