Northmead High School's arts students help save rhinos

Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School students let their creativity run wild to raise public awareness and funds for Taronga Zoo's rhino-breeding program and conservation projects.

The school was among 50 in NSW to decorate a life-sized plaster rhino calf for the zoo's Wild!Rhinos initiative.

The year 9 visual arts students named their rhino "Roy" — the Afrikaans word for red — to symbolise bloodshed.

They painted the rhino's horn gold with a "cut here" symbol around the base to show its value to poachers.

"We weren't after prettiness," visual arts teacher Sandra Hockings said.

"We were after something that was going to send a very strong environmental message."

Ms Hockings said the project linked with science — through research on rhino habitat and the Chinese medicines which use its powdered horn — and literacy, as students were asked to write a persuasive statement for or against poaching.

"It wasn't exclusively art," she said.

"The images we came across were really quite powerful, confronting, and upsetting as well."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Africa's black rhino and the Sumatran rhino, native to south-east Asia, as endangered.

There are fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos, while the black rhino has an estimated population of only 5055.

A "rhino trail" of the artworks will be on display at parks and public spaces including Carlingford Court, Pennant Hills Road, Carlingford, until April 28.

■ Details: taronga.org.au/wild-rhinos.

Read year 9 student Connor Pillai's  poem about  Roy below:

Roy our Rhino,

Just above his sunburnt armour

A tiny tick bird acts as his cleaner

Our class of misfits band together

Wet our brushes to paint upon his character.

We tattoo his rear

With an image of fear

A thieving poacher no less

With wicked intensions he leaves a mess

Of Rhino-hornless Rhinos. 

We write on his shoulder

"Rhino horns belong on Rhinos"

The world echoing quote goes.

A map of Africa to show his homeland

‘No poaching’ logos to state our stand

A target aimed upon his neck

Blood pouring from this frightful wreck

Of Rhino-hornless Rhinos.

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