Four years ago during a year out making artwork to raise funds for wildlife conservation, I produced Rhino 2014 Biro drawing for CHENGETA WILDLIFE. Chengeta were then a newly founded organisation. They provide training and mentoring for rangers, risking their lives to protect wildlife across Africa. Having followed Chenegta's inspirational achievements in the protection of elephants and other African species over the years, it is both an honour and humbling to see Rhino drawing go up for auction.
Photo credit: Chengeta Wildlife
Chengeta's online auction starts Monday 20 August 5pm UK time ( 9am West Coast USA) closing Saturday 25 August at 10pm UK time ( 2pm West Coast USA) and all proceeds raised from the sale of Rhino drawing will go directly to Chengeta. They are also holding two fundraising events in Edinburgh and London. Tickets for the Hendersons Holyrood, Edinburgh event on 24 August are available here and tickets for L'Escargot Restaurant, London are available here.
'Chengeta trainers Rory Young and Nigel Kuhn with detection dog specialist from Holland and brave rangers from Eaux Des Forets and the Malian representative of Wild Foundation' Photo credit: Chengeta Wildlife
For most animal lovers the courage and bravery of those on the front-line of wildlife protection is awe-inspiring. With wildlife expert, professional guide and Chengeta co-founder Rory Young at the helm of a stellar team of trainers, including Nigel Kuhn, Franck Cunniet, Yoann Galeran and the heroic rangers they work with, Chengeta Wildlife's accomplishments since 2014 are truly remarkable. Their ethos is to "strengthen those who protect wildlife and promote harmony between man and nature through a philosophy of RESPECT", and it works!
Photo credit: Nigel Kuhn for Reuters
The Desert elephants of Mali live in one of the world's most dangerous areas of conflict. Their population has been decimated by poachers to approximately 300 remaining individuals. Under the protection of Chengeta Wildlife and their co-partners Wild Foundation not one Desert elephant was lost between 2017 and March 2018. With the current estimation of 55 elephants being killed by poachers every day, the team's success in Mali incredible. Wildlife protectors across the world risk their lives to save the animals they and so many of us love, because it is unbearable for them to imagine a world without these beautiful creatures. We are all the more rich, because of the selfless bravery of the Chengeta team and others like them, who are providing hope for the survival of these species and our planet's bio-diversity.
With heartfelt thanks to all those at Chengeta for your passion, courage and bravery. All the very best with your fundraisers and continued success protecting Africa's wildlife for generations to come.
Photo credit: Rory Young
The drawing I made for Chengeta was inspired by some of the most hunted animals on earth including species from other continents. It was also inspired by, in my own humble opinion the 'father of our nation' Sir David Attenborough. He has shared with generations, the sheer breathtaking beauty, intelligence and diversity of the worlds remaining wildlife encouraging us to appreciate this priceless gift from Nature.
For anyone who is interested in learning about the symbolism behind my drawing and how David Attenborough's series Africa inspired the layers of images please read the synopsis I wrote in 2014 below.
RHINO IN HOMAGE TO 'AFRICA' 2014 BIRO DRAWING
Inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s ionic drawing Rhinoceros, 1515, Rhino Biro drawing symbolises man’s curiosity and relationship with the natural world, from Dürer’s epochal representation to the present day. Within 500 years of Dürer’s creative legacy, rhinoceros species teeter on the brink of extinction alongside tigers, pangolin, sharks and other keystone species. Lions, elephants and manta ray have also reached threatened status. Where once rhinoceros roamed in vast numbers, treading a 50 million year old evolutionary path, from the 1600s onwards, rhino numbers have plummeted by 90%. Hunting, habitat loss and poaching for their horns to use in traditional Chinese medicine, factor amongst the reasons for their more recent and rapid decline. From a 16th century artist who executed man’s inquisitive propensity to study species never seen before in the west, this drawing underlines our vast 21st century knowledge of wildlife and the threats that face life on earth. Ultimately this piece aims to highlight the beauty, majesty and the importance of the depicted species, “ The creatures that inhabit this earth – be they human beings or animals – are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.” Dalai Lama.
Albrecht Dürer ‘Rhinoceros’, (below)
Paying homage to BBC documentary series Africa, 2013, the films are used as pivotal inspiration as the majority of species represented in this artwork are from the African continent. A monumental wildlife series, presented by David Attenborough Africa reveals the breath-taking beauty and fragility of Africa and the species inhabiting its lands. Jane photographed 1000’s of images of Africa as it played onscreen to give a sense of cinematic transience. There is also an evanescent quality, symbolising that species are disappearing at a rate beyond that of their natural cycle. By portraying specific animals that feature in Africa, presents the individualism of each animal, both aesthetically and characteristically; thus emphasising the fact that each animal is unique and precious to the survival of its species. Selecting some of the most poignant scenes from the documentary, including perhaps the most touching of all, the death from drought enforced starvation of an elephant calf and the “little chat” between David Attenborough and a blind rhino calf, Jane confronts the threats these species face both naturally and at the hands of man.
“Like it or not this generation is responsible for handing on the world’s wildlife to the next. No one knows what the future holds for this little creature (blind rhino calf), nor indeed what changes will take place on the great continent in which he lives ... but one thing is certain, what happens here is more important than it has ever been and that the relationship of the rest of the world to this great continent (Africa) and the creatures that live in it is more important than ever before. On whichever part of the planet we live we all have a part to play in what sort of future this wild continent has.” David Attenborough, ‘Africa’ epilogue.
David Attenborough having a little chat with blind rhino calf - tv screen photograph of 'Africa'
THE STORIES BEHIND THE IMAGES
Detail of 'Rhino' back
Elephant Calf (Rhino back) – depicting one of the most moving sequences from ‘Africa’ this drawing portrays the moment a starving elephant calf, too weak to hold up its head, collapses into the drought-ridden grass. This drawing symbolises that elephants endure natural adversities as well as poaching for their tusks.
Mother Elephant – layered above the dying calf is a drawing of its mother elephant weeping for the death of her calf. Having stood vigil and tried to revive the calf, she accepts its death. Elephants are the only known species apart from humans to practice ritual behaviour when confronting death, including grief and have been known to show the same emotions when encountering human death.
Adult Elephant – layered through the dying calf is an image of a triumphant adult elephant drinking from a water hole, celebrating the monumental greatness of the largest land mammal on earth, surrounded by the slight stature of gazelles and zebra.
Dead Elephant Calf and Mother Elephant – a tiny drawing through the centre of the piece shows the body of the dead calf lying in the dust and the moment the mother elephant senses she has to leave her calf and return to the herd. Left behind to tend the sick calf the herd are bound to continue their quest to find water and avoid further death. As she turns and walks away on her journey a faded image of another adult elephant beyond her indicates that she eventually reaches the herd.
South China Tigers, Mother, cubs & Male (back & front Rhino legs) - when Jane began drawing ‘Rhino 2014’ in early summer the official number of wild tigers was less than 3500. By August the official number is emerged as less than 3000 wild tigers. There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild. The small tiger cubs represent the future of tigers padding towards extinction, but ‘hope’ that it is possible not only to save wild tigers but all the species depicted in ‘Rhino 2014’.
Detail of 'Rhino' Front
Starlit Rhino (Rhino Front)- the main face and body of ‘Rhino 2014’ is inspired from a sequence in ‘Africa’ capturing newly uncovered rhino behaviour. Deemed unsociable, film evidence reveals that rhinos actually gather at night to socialise at a secret watering hole.
Blind Rhino Calf (drawing on main Rhino face) – one of the stars of ‘Africa’, a blind rhino calf’s every move is guided by rangers. This drawing symbolises that each individual animal including this little rhino is precious and holds a key to the future security of its species.
Prehistoric Rhino Etching (drawing on main Rhino face) – prehistoric rock engraving of a rhino found in the Sahara becomes a layered drawing as if tattooed on the rhino’s skin and plays as a reminder as to how long rhinos have existed on earth.
Young Lion – portrait of a noble young lion suggests the majesty of ‘the king of the jungle’, but its eyes betray a reflective demeanour expressing that hunting and habitat loss have seen wild lion numbers plummet from 200,000 a century ago to fewer than 20,000. The lion gazes up towards ‘the future’.
Lion Cub (under main lion) – portrait of a lion cub personifies hope for the future of its species.
Dancing Manta Rays (throughout artwork) – drawings manta rays appear throughout this piece and include a group of dancing manta rays layered through the central elephant’s ear. Hunted for their gill rakers to use in Chinese medicine the future of manta rays remains uncertain.
Pangolin (front leg of rhino) – armoured body of a pangolin clings on to the walking rhino’s leg, suggesting the precarious status of pangolin species, racing towards extinction, caught for food and used in Chinese medicine. Tens of thousands of pangolin are traded every year.