The Zululand Conservation Trust had the recent privilege of accompanying Richard Mabanga, the face of Rhino Art, into our neighboring communities in an effort to reach out to the youth and educate them on the importance of Rhino.
Rhino Art - Let the children's voices be heard, aims to gather the largest number of children's 'Art Voices' ever recorded. In an effort to fight the war against poaching, Rhino Art involves local communities that are at times the silent witnesses to the slaughter. We increase conservation awareness among the youth and cultivate a next generation of wildlife 'ambassadors' that has a vested interest in the protection of rhino and other endangered species.
Richard is an extremely passionate & infectious person, who has the incredible talent of gaining the attention of every single person in his audience, of course his ‘Rhino Rig’, that converts into a stage & booms out the latest music is also a hit!
Richard explains to the children the importance of protecting our wildlife & how if we do not conserve our species the Eco-tourism industry will crumble, he then goes on to stress the importance of tourism to our economy & communities & how if our wildlife begins to deplete we will no longer have an attraction for tourism.
With the presentation in isiZulu, Richard is able to relate to the children on their level, he is dressed in traditional wear, and uses different tones of voice to role play his stories. The crowd erupts with laughter when he acts like a British tourist, and they listen intently as he describes how wildlife crime affects the tourism & communities. All types of emotions are probed in this 30 minute presentation.
Some of the participants enjoying the festivities on Richards 'Rhino Rig'
Along with Richard we manage to visit 5 rural schools, with most of the children never having seen a rhino, let alone drive inside a game reserve, the concept of a ‘rhino’ is a very foreign thing; however it is vital to equip and educate the future generations about the effects that poaching has on the bigger picture.
After the presentation each school was left with blank templates of rhino for the children to colour in and share their message from what they had learned from Richard, we then returned a couple weeks later to judge the art. On wading through the hundreds of brightly coloured pieces in search of the winner Frances Hannah had this to say “As I clutched the art close to my chest whilst spreading it out over the room I got a strong smell of wood fire and fish. I could imagine the time and effort the children put into this work as they sat at home after school while food was being prepared in their house over an open fire.”
Frances Hannah from the Zululand Conservation Trust enjoying searching for the winner
The runners up of the competition received a bag of goodies ranging from t-shirts, water bottles towels and mugs, with the winner becoming the schools official ‘rhino ambassador’ who will represent their school at the Wildlife ACT Fund's Conservation Education Kids Bush Camp taking place at Somkhanda Game Reserve.
Can we expect these children to be rhino ambassadors without ever seeing a rhino? At the camp the children will learn about life inside a game reserve, from the smallest dung beetles to the tallest giraffe, they will also get a first-hand look into the destruction caused by poachers and wildlife crime. Just imagine the incredible memories & stories these children will have to take home to their family & friends.
Many thanks to Richard Mabanga and his determination, Brien Gumbi our community liaison who helped everyday with the set up and judging. A huge Thank you to Rhino Art, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation & Project Rhino KZN for an incredible project & for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of Rhino Art and to let these less fortunate children enjoy the opportunity to see and experience wildlife first hand - what a brilliant way to encourage a life of conservation - Thank-You!
For an in depth article written on the 'Kids Camp' & how you can help click hereBack to Blogs