Northern White Rhino
The most endangered animal in the world, this 20-year-old northern white rhino has a lot resting on her shoulders. She is constantly watched by people but she knows that this is for a very good reason. Even without her guard, people still try to get her, all for the horn which she can’t understand why they would possibly want. But for now, she will roam the confines of her reserve with her mother and hope that people will stop trying to force her into extinction.
The white rhino is the second-largest land mammal in the world and is not actually white at all. Its name may have come from a misunderstanding of the Afrikaan’s name “weit” which means wide. White rhinos have a wide square lip whereas black rhinos have a pointed upper lip, so the name could be in reference to their mouth. On the grassy plains of Africa, they use their wide lip to graze, sometimes in groups before finding a nice water hole to cool off in the mud.
There are two species of white rhino, the northern and southern. The southern rhino was thought to be extinct until the late 19th century when a small population was discovered in South Africa. With a lot of hard work and dedication, they were able to bring this species back from the brink where it is now classified as near threatened, a major conservation success story. The southern white rhino makes up 98.8% of all white rhino. The remaining 0.02% is the northern white rhino. There are only 2 left in the world, mother and daughter Najin and Fatu. They are under 24 hour guarded surveillance at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya where they are still threatened by poachers.
White rhinos give birth to very large calves. Weighing between 40-65 kg, the babies are huge. The newborns are very unsteady for the first few days and completely reliant on their mothers until they are weaned which could be as old as 12 months. The mother is very protective of her calf. When threatened, the baby will run towards its other who will passionately defend it, meaning that young rhinos are very rarely attacked. When the mother is about to give birth to her next calf, she will chase off her current baby to prepare.
Rhinos have to deal with a great many things when it comes to survival. Africa is a harsh place to call home, with extreme temperatures, great predators, and the worst of them all, poachers. Rhinos are especially targeted for their horns which are sold on the black market at a staggering price, as much as the price of gold in weight. They are used for traditional medicines in China and Vietnam where they are thought to possess therapeutic properties. Being made from keratin, the same material as our hair and fingernails, this is not true. Even so, the market is still surging.
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/