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Art at King Shaka honours Field Rangers fighting for Rhino

“Isibindi” whose Zulu name means “courage,” was unveiled at King Shaka International Airport on the 22nd of November and forms part of the Wildlands’ Rhino Parade campaign, an innovative fundraising campaign based on the internationally renowned Cow Parade concept. The initiative seeks to raise funding for, and increase awareness around the war on rhino poaching by getting South African’s to adopt and help design a ¾ life size black rhino sculpture. Isibindi is the 14th rhino sculpture to join the parade.

Colin Naidoo (Brand and Communications Manager at ACSA) and Dr Andrew Venter (CEO of Wildlands) hand over a cheque for R6500 to Jean Rose, the Principal at Russell High School, in order to fund a bursary for a deserving scholar and acknowledge the amazing contribution Russell High School made to creating “Isibindi” (courage) the Rhino.  Art at King Shaka honours Field Rangers fighting for Rhino Isibindi Cheque

Colin Naidoo (Brand and Communications Manager at ACSA) and Dr Andrew Venter (CEO of Wildlands) hand over a cheque for R6500 to Jean Rose, the Principal at Russell High School, in order to fund a bursary for a deserving scholar and acknowledge the amazing contribution Russell High School made to creating “Isibindi” (courage) the Rhino.

“ACSA are a long-time partner of Wildlands Conservation Trust and Rhino conservation is something that is particularly important to us,” said Colin Naidoo, Brand and Communications Manager at ACSA. “This sculpture is also a way of honouring field rangers and conservationists, as well as spreading awareness around the poaching crisis, both locally and internationally as passengers make their way through the airport building,” said Naidoo.

Isibindi was inspired by the courage of field rangers who risk their lives to save Rhino from extinction and ultimately stand between the bullets and these beautiful creatures.

Cedric Coetzee, Rhino Security Co-ordinator for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, spoke on behalf of the many field rangers and conservationists who attended the event. “We have partnered with organisations like Wildlands and Project Rhino KZN and I believe we now have effective systems in place that act as a deterrent to poachers,” said Coetzee.

Isibindi was designed and decorated by a talented team of visual arts learners from Russell High School in Pietermaritzburg, under the guidance of their visual arts educator, Alana Leigh.

This unique rhino sculpture involved months of dedication by this passionate team of girls – Nomfundo Mkhwanazi, Noxolo Mkahathini, Sanele Mbanjwa, Peaceful Khumalo, Yamkela Madibi, Nonjabulo Khumalo, Malwande Guliwe, Sanele Mbanjwa, Nonjabulo Shezi, Sphumelele Hadebe, Malwande Bhengu, Ashley Voges and Nonkululeko Khumalo –  who worked tirelessly after school, over weekends and during school holidays to create this magnificent masterpiece.

The design concept is based around the idea of a “war elephant” covered in armour. “The rhino is fighting for its survival and so we thought the rhino needed something to protect it,” said Russell High learner Nomfundo Mkhwanazi.

Isibindi’s “armour” which symbolizes an animal warrior, is crafted from pieces of aluminium cans, beads, dried tea bags and broken glass. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Alana Leigh. “We don’t have a big budget for arts so we get a lot of our material from Wildlands Recycling Station!”

The beaded medallions featured on Isibindi are creative interpretations based on various awards for courage and bravery.*Russell High learner, Peaceful Khumalo, got so involved in the beadwork she had to be chased home from school most days!

Dr Andrew Venter, Wildlands’ CEO, and ACSA’s Colin Naidoo surprised Russell High at the unveiling event and handed over a cheque for R6500 – which will be used to award a bursary to a Russell High learner.

“We decided we wanted to offer Russell High some sort of remuneration for all their effort in turning Isibindi into an absolute work of art,” said Dr Venter. “When discussing this we decided the best way would be to offer a bursary to a deserving learner, and ultimately contribute towards the future of a young mind.”

The Rhino Parade campaign is gaining momentum and ACSA have agreed to host 2 more “rhino unveiling” events in 2014. It is campaign’s such as this that are making waves and ultimately funding the fight against poachers. “We must say a huge thank you to Colin Naidoo and ACSA for their on-going support, without which none of this would have been possible,” concludes Dr Venter.

 Caption to main header image: Some of the Field Rangers who inspired the creation of “Isibindi” (courage) the Rhino – (From L to R) Sihle Mathe, Mariana Venter (Thanda Private Game Reserve), Letishia Kleinschmidt (Thanda Private Game Reserve), Amos Nkosi, Bhekani Mavimbela, Moses Gumbi and Zama Ncube, with Mark Gerrard of Wildlands Conservation Trust at the back. 

*The symbols on ISBINDI’S medals make creative reference to the following awards:

–       The Golden Leopard- awarded by the SADF (South African Defence Force) for exceptional bravery

–       The Order of Mendi – awarded to South African citizens for extraordinary acts of bravery

–       The Laurel wreath, the star and the cross are symbols that occur in many military awards for courage

–       The large beaded mandalas on ISIBINDI’S side consist of Zulu shields and spears and refer to brave Zulu warriors

–       The necklace around ISBINDI’S neck refers to the necklace of thorns that King Shaka Zulu presented to his warriors who had displayed great courage in battle