I recently completed a white rhino sculpture for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) annual Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition. Survivor is inspired by the story of a real life white rhino calf named Thandi. The story goes back to 2012 and South Africa’s Kariega Game Reserve. Thandi, along with two other white rhinos, was brutally poached for her horns.
Incredibly, and against the odds, Thandi survived the attack. She needed medical intervention to repair the wounds to her face, followed by the world’s first rhino skin-graft. During these procedures, a blood test revealed she was pregnant. A few months later Thembi was born.
To celebrate Thembi’s birth I sculpted Thandi’s Girl for the 2015 Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition. This was the year I won the competition. I was thrilled when I learned that all of the works I featured in the exhibition had sold, as half the proceeds go directly towards wildlife conservation projects.
Thandi has gone on to have three more calves. Since her rescue, her daughter Thembi has had her very first calf, so Thandi is now a grandmother! It’s hard to imagine a more life affirming outcome for a story with such a dark beginning. Click here to read more about Thandi’s story.
Fast forward to 2021, and I felt it was important to celebrate this new life in a new white rhino sculpture, Survivor. This little rhino looks vulnerable but he’s in good condition, his legs are strong, he’s alert and – like his family before him – he’s a born survivor.
But all rhinos need our protection and support to survive the continual threat of poaching. For this reason Survivor will feature in the DSWF 2021 Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition. The proceeds from the sale will go directly towards rhino conservation.