Rhino Art: Conservation starts with Children

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The words promptly displayed on Rhino Art’s website echo in my head whenever I see someone litter, harm our natural environment or take part in unethical animal interactions. It echoes, “let us not be the generation that did nothing about it”, and it always reminds me that I have two choices: I can speak out or I can do nothing.

A bit more than a month ago I sat in a packed amphitheatre at the Boardwalk in Nelson Mandela Bay for the Olli Homecoming Campfire and listened to the tale of Wayne Bolton who embarked on a One Land Love it Expedition almost a year ago after he raised the question, “What have I ever done to contribute to the sustainability of my environment”. His expedition took him along the roads of South Africa where he cycled 6000 km from one South African National Park to the next to create awareness and raise funds for orphaned rhino calves and anti-poaching initiatives.

While there are hundreds of incredible individuals doing their part for conservation, this story and expedition struck a chord with me and took me back to my own journey and the start of Going Somewhere Slowly, when I packed up and embarked on my own two-month cycle trip in 2012 (but with slightly less kilometers on the clock).

You see, when someone says bicycle, I listen. But when someone says conservation and bicycle, I jump on board.

Rhino Art Project

One of the initiatives which the One Land Love it Expedition raises funds for, is Rhino Art.

The Rhino Art project focuses on the local communities and the project makes way for the children’s voices to be heard with the aim to gather the largest number of children’s ‘Art Voices’ ever recorded.

Rhino art
Rhino Art
Rhino Art Project

The Rhino Art Project, which forms part of the Kingsley Holgate foundation, is of opinion that the war against rhino poaching can only be won if we involve the communities living alongside the reserves.

“We need to be conscious of their concerns, include and assist the communities. By recording the Rhino Art conservation messages we gain an understanding of what is in the hearts and minds of the children.”

I chatted to Dave Pattle, the Rhino Art Coordinator in the Eastern Cape who has been involved with the project for two years, and asked him a few questions.

The Rhino Art Project focuses mainly on the schools of communities located close to game reserves, what inspires you or what lessons have you learnt from visiting these children and educating them about the plight of our rhinos?

The insight of the children is amazing. The children recognise the significance of these animals and understand that by losing the rhino we lose part of our “South Africaness”, part of our humanity. The connection between conservation and employment is also understood. Handing a bicycle over to a winner of the art competition and to see the smile on their face is something else. The desire of the children to be exposed to more and see more in terms of our natural heritage is fantastic. They have very firm opinions and views and their voices need to be heard.

What are some of the Rhino Art Project’s achievements?

The Rhino Art Project was the winner of the 2016 GRAA Rhino Conservation Awards – Best Awareness, Education & Funding.

What are biggest struggles you’ve encountered in terms of delivering the message of the The Rhino Art Project?

The logistics of transport and getting our paper, crayons and bicycles to the schools is definitely one of the biggest struggles.

Another challenge is that we have to educate children about wild life and crime  concerning an animal they have never seen. It is a tough job. We are placing a huge emphasis on getting kids into our reserves; conservation is not an animal problem it’s a people problem and this costs money too.

If you can leave people with one thought, what would it be?

Collaboration is required. Action is required. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can. We can all do something. The rhino is one of thousands of species under threat. If we lose the rhino, where will the line be drawn? This is a much bigger fight than we realise. It’s really a war for the sake of our humanity of which this is a big battle.

Rhino art
Rhino art
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Rhino Art

When I asked Wayne and Nikki Bolton why they chose Rhino Art as one of the One Land Love It Expedition’s beneficiaries, they said:

Rhino Art says let our children’s voices be heard and One Land Love It is all about stepping up and making a difference so that future generations can enjoy the privilege. We are more convinced than ever that it is “the sway of the people” that will create a tipping point for change in the fight for our rhino and other species. It is you and I that will make the difference.

wayne bolton

The Rhino Art Project – You Can Help

When it comes to The Rhino Art Project, every bit helps and this is how you can help:

  • Visit www.rhinoart.co.za and get involved.
  • Donate paper, crayons and materials.
  • Contribute with your wallet – there is no such things as a donation too small. A few R5 coins will take The Rhino Project a lot further than no R5 coins.
    Contact Dave at, dave@rhinoart.co.za.
  • Share The Rhino Art Project by sharing the initiative with friends, by sharing this blog post, and by creating awareness.

Children have a real voice that can be used to strengthen relationships with government bodies and mobilise politicians and authorities to listen.

Let us not be the generation that did nothing about it!

Keep your eyes on the One Land Love it Expedition as Wayne Bolton will embark on another bicycle journey: OLLI FRONTIER RHINO RIDE.

This expedition will take place in July 2017 where he will join approximately 20 of the top reserves in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal from Nelson Mandela Bay to near the Mozambican Border, paying tribute to the role they are playing in conserving our rhino.

Do what you can, with what you have, and again: let’s not be the generation that did nothing about it.

Disclaimer: Photos used with permission from Dave Pattle and Nikki Bolton.

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