Student help for rare rhinos

Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School students let their creativity run wild to raise awareness and funds for the Taronga Zoo rhino-breeding program and conservation projects.

The school was among 50 in NSW to decorate a life-sized plaster rhino calf for the zoo's Wild!Rhinos initiative.

The year 9 visual arts students named their rhino "Roy" — the Afrikaans word for red — to symbolise bloodshed.

They painted the rhino's horn gold with a "cut here" symbol around the base to show its value to poachers.

"We weren't after prettiness," visual arts teacher Sandra Hockings said.

"We were after something that was going to send a very strong environmental message."

Ms Hockings said the project linked with science — through research on rhino habitat and the chinese medicines which use its powdered horn — and literacy, as students were also asked to write a persuasive statement for or against poaching. 

‘‘It wasn’t exclusively art,’’ she said.

‘‘The images we came across were really quite powerful, confronting, and upsetting as well.

‘‘It created an awareness among the students who felt they were doing something worthwhile.’’

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Africa’s Black Rhino and the Sumatran Rhino, native to South East Asia, as critically endangered.

There are fewer than 200 Sumatran Rhinos left alive, while the Black Rhino has an estimated population of 5,055 — a far cry from the hundreds of thousands that existed just a few decades ago.

A ‘Rhino Trail’ of the artworks will be on display at parks and public spaces including Carlingford Court, Pennant Hills Road, Carlingford, until April 28.

Details: taronga.org.au/wild-rhinos.

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