David Yarrow Joins the Tusk Rhino Trail

Josh Wright

31 Aug 2018

Endangered rhinos are being introduced to a surprising new habitat: the streets of London.

Until September 22nd – World Rhino Day – visitors to England’s capital will be able to follow the Tusk Rhino Trail, an art installation spanning the breadth of central London from Hyde Park to St Paul’s Cathedral. 21 rhino sculptures can now be found at some of London’s most iconic locations, each one designed, decorated and embellished by internationally renowned artists, including NWS specialist leader David Yarrow.

The Rhino Trail has been curated by Tusk, a non-profit conservation organisation that boasts HRH The Duke of Cambridge as its Royal Patron. Tusk is dedicated to protecting wildlife, supporting communities and promoting education throughout Africa. The charity supports more than 60 field projects in 19 African countries that not only work to protect wildlife, but also help to alleviate poverty through sustainable development and education amongst rural communities who live alongside the wildlife. Since its formation in 1990, Tusk has invested more than £35 million into a range of such projects across the continent.

The Tusk Rhino Trail itself is both a celebration of the African rhino and a call to arms for its protection, with all species threatened by a global poaching crisis. The black rhino in particular has been classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, with fewer than 5,000 individuals remaining in the wild. The white rhino, although faring better with a population of around 20,000 and an IUCN classification of “Near Threatened”, is still in grave danger. The vast majority of white rhinos live in South Africa, where rhino poaching increased 9,000% between 2007 and 2014. The plight of the world’s rhinos was thrown into sharp relief back in March of this year, when the death of Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, made the subspecies functionally extinct.

David Yarrow is no stranger to conservation and philanthropy – after all, he is Tusk’s long-term affiliated photographer, and donates 10% of all his proceeds to the charity. When it comes to inspiring individuals to protect the treasures of the natural world, David is keenly aware of the effect that impactful images can have, and it is because of this that he chose to cover his sculpture not only in images of rhinos, but of other animals as well.

It’s seemed to me from the outset that this rhino’s body should be a stage for all endangered species. That’s what the rhino would want. Rhinos have no issues with any mammal other than humans! How shameful is that!

Joining the black rhino featured in David’s image ‘The Departed’ (see above) are a number of other animals that have also served as subjects for the photographer’s work, including lions, leopards, giraffes, gorillas, hippos and zebra. Below are two examples; while photographing the polar bears of “Hello” on Alaska’s Barter Island, David tells us that he “must have been closer than just about anyone has ever been to a polar bear in the wild and lived to tell the tale”; while ‘The Circle of Life’ – which was shot on a dry lake in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park – is, by David's own reckoning, his strongest ever elephant image.

David's rhino has been put together with the help of Alex Ames, the artist Venetia Berry, and Ken Sethi of Genesis Imaging, the company which has sponsored the sculpture. After the Trail has ended, each of the 21 sculptures will be auctioned off at the famous Christie’s auction house in October, with all proceeds going towards Tusk’s work in Africa. David's rhino stands proudly on its plinth in Duke of York Square, just 400 yards from his Sloane Street studio in Chelsea; make sure to pay it and its fellow rhinos a visit before their time in the limelight comes to an end, and don’t forget to visit Tusk’s website to find out how you can contribute to their vital work in Africa.

David Yarrow is serving as the specialist leader for three upcoming expeditions with Natural World Safaris: South Georgia this November, Svalbard in April 2019 and Antarctica in October 2020.

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