Rhino lovers celebrate their arrival

Danielle Jordan and Helene de Villiers of the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Woodstock painting a rhino.

Eight brightly painted, life-sized rhinos made their way to the city centre to launch the Grand Rhino Roadshow in a bid to attract sponsorship and raise funds to save rhinos from poaching.

The rhinos were unveiled for the first time at the Greenmarket Square on Thursday April 6 in the presence of the artists who worked on the rhinos, sponsors, supporters of the project and curious visitors.

The roadshow was launched a day after the Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal by the Department of Environmental Affairs to maintain the ban on domestic rhino trade.

And while it was a bitter-sweet occasion for the organisers of the roadshow, they hope that they can attract enough sponsors to assist organisations who help save rhinos in the wild.

At the event, the founder of The Rhinos Are Coming!!!, Janice Ashby, said the dream that they had for the roadshow had finally become a reality.

“We managed to get some sponsors to sponsor our eight rhinos. We had eight artists to decorate them, and now eight beautiful rhinos are about to hit the road.”

She said the purpose of the roadshow, during which the rhinos will be paraded through parts of the city on their carnival float, was to get businesses to support the real rhinos through the exhibition.

“We have to attract some more sponsors – about a hundred. Rhinos are so topical. We heard that trading rhinos has been legalised which is a terrible blow for us and the rhinos.

“In the next eight months we want to attract support to be able to get a fabulous expo in every street and up Table Mountain.”

Ms Ashby told the Bulletin she came up with the idea for The Rhinos Are Coming!!! when, while living in Chicago, she saw a parade of brightly painted cows on street corners and at stores.

“I thought it was fantastic. And what was even more spectacular was that the project was raising money for a worthy cause.

“So, when I came back to South Africa, rhino poaching was at its peak and very relevant, so I thought it was a no-brainer that we did the same for the rhinos.”

She then approached various local artists to help paint the rhinos, and also approached businesses to help sponsor a rhino.

One of the artists, Nasser Zadeh, said he wanted to do something to help keep the animals alive.

“As a foreigner from Iran living in Cape Town, I always wanted to do something about the country and its culture and wanted to do something for charity,” he said.

Mr Zadeh, who paints memorable spaces in the city such as Long Street, Camps Bay and Bo-Kaap, incorporated this into his design on the rhino.

“I know South African people love colour, so I used bright colours. I also wanted to show that the horn of the rhinos are valuable so I painted it gold, and then used one of the street scenes of Bo-Kaap on the rhino to show unity and that people can stand together to fight rhino poaching.”

Another artist, Nadia ‘Nardstar’ Fisher, said decided to get involved because it was a worthy cause and an “exciting canvass” to work on.

“It was a weird experience for me because, being a street artist, I’m used to painting walls and because I use spray-paint, the walls help with neatness and control.

“On the rhino, it was a bit more difficult because of all the curves, it was challenging but it was a good experience.”

She said the design she chose was based on her style of painting.

“I use a lot of bold colours and geometric shapes and shading.”

The One & Only Hotel at the V&A Waterfront was one of the sponsors of the event. Marketing manager Ashleigh Fleming, said the hotel often got involved in conservation initiatives, and thought this was a good opportunity to take their work to into the communities.

“We worked with Nardstar, a street artist who has lots of work in the streets of Cape Town. We love Nardstar’s work and what she represents as a strong female street artist.

“We are thrilled with the end results. The rhino was named Rhymesaurus – a rapper rhino.”

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which runs the Radisson Blu Hotels and Park Inn by Radisson brands, have also chipped in to sponsor a rhino.

Renaldo Pretorious, the area digital marketing manager, said the hotel group tried to “take care of the planet” and that they were happy with the work that the artist they sponsored had done.

“It was great, and I think the rhino looks beautiful. It’s very creative, and fits in with our brand. It’s blue and colourful – for Radisson Blu, and Park Inn with all the different colours. We’ve got a philosophy called Park Inn – adding colour to life.”

The eight-month sponsorship drive will lead up to three-month The Rhinos Are Coming!!! exhibition at the end of the year.

The aim is to have 100 brightly painted rhino sculptures exhibited at high-foot-traffic locations all around greater Cape Town and the winelands.

The rhinos will then be auctioned and the proceeds will be donated to StopRhinoPoaching.com, which will be used to supply game reserves on the front line of poaching with essential equipment and services, such as tracker dogs, ranger kits, ranger training and light aircraft among other things.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the cause can contact Janice Ashby at 072 473 5596 or orja@therhinosarecoming.org