Wednesday, 4 December 2013

#484 In the field: Africa . . . Black Rhino

Please start this series of posts with #477

There were four different subspecies of black rhino at the beginning of the 20th century
and an estimated 1,000,000 animals roamed the savannas of Africa.  There are now only
three subspecies in existence as the Western Black Rhino was recently declared extinct.

Below, is a drawing of a Black Rhino from my sketchbook.

Authorities differ on how many black rhino remain on this planet but it's estimated between
2300 and 5000 animals of the remaining three subspecies exist and they are being killed daily.

Why is one subspecies extinct and the remaining three subspecies vulnerable to extinction?

TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine was promoted in Asia between 1950 and 1960 as a way to
unify the country against Western civilization and the use of Western medicine.  Between 1960 and 1975,
98% of the black rhino were killed by poachers to supply powdered rhino horn to Asia from which was said
to cure everything from hangovers, to fever, to cancer.   It is now considered a status symbol
as science has verified there are no medicinal qualities in powdered rhino horn.

On our recent trip to Tanzania, Trish and I were in the Ngorongoro Crater on two different occasions and both times we spotted a black rhino in the distance.  Our guides concluded that even though we saw a black rhino over two weeks apart, it was probably the same animal.  The photos below were shot with a 300 mm lens and are of poor quality due to distance and heat shimmer.  The fact remains that we experienced one of the few remaining black rhinos in existence.

I took drawings of various animal skeletons with me to Africa.  They are a great resource when spotting
an animal at a distance and only the shape and silhouette is recognizable.

Upon my return to the studio, I was anxious to model a clay sketch of the black rhino . . .
below, is a quick block-in that I'll return to when I gather more reference material.
I was cognizant of the fact and captivated by the knowledge that during my lifetime,
the magnificent animal could be extinct. . . and I'm not that young.

Our group of artist ambassadors are in the process of raising money and awareness against
poaching for not only the black rhino, but for the elephant through our artworks.
Please follow our posts, blogs, and links and help us.  Link to http://africanwildlifetrust.org

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott

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