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Marble sculpture to be auctioned in aid of rhino and elephant protection

Avatar of inke inke 24. August 2017 - Environment, Culture

The artist Gé Pellini with the rhino he chiseled from a block of marble.

With the help of a heavy-duty crane a nine-ton block of white marble was offloaded at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) in Windhoek in the middle of July. The block had been selected by well-known French artist and sculptor Gé Pellini from a quarry near Karibib.

Pellini started to chisel away after seeing rhinos in the wild during a visit to world-famous Etosha National Park with his wife Arielle, followed by rhino tracking at Palmwag Lodge in the northwest of the country. With plenty of chiselling, flexing, polishing and measuring, the block of marble finally took on the first semblance to the shape of a rhino. Since the artist created the bottom of his design first, the crane was needed again on 7 August to turn the colossal half-finished rhino and carefully lift it onto its feet. 

In the midst of fine white dust as well as chips and chunks of marble Pellini continued to finish his work of art, which is to be auctioned on 31 August. The idea to create a ‘white rhino’ for auctioning came from the HUAP Foundation (Hunters United Against Poaching) of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA). The aim of the project is to raise urgently needed funds for the protection of rhinos and elephants in Namibia. In more recent years Namibia, too, has become the target of international syndicates, intent on getting their hands on rhino horn and elephant tusks. Along with nature conservation officials, police and members of Namibia’s defence force, game rangers of communal conservancies are also involved in anti-poaching efforts.

The HUAP Foundation assists with training the rangers of communal conservancies. Experts on anti-poaching methods teach them in various two-week courses about how to behave in the bush, what type of signs to look out for during patrols, how to gather and evaluate information from the community and how to operate within existing legislation. Beginners’ courses are followed up with specialised courses for group leaders or advanced rangers. The main goal of the training is not to apprehend poachers but to prevent poaching. Most of the game rangers are from communal conservancies for which NAPHA members hold a hunting concession and thus already provide an income and jobs for the community in charge of the concession. Trained rangers not only help their community to appreciate nature conservation but also assist in protecting the valuable wildlife so that it can be utilised sustainably in various ways.    

When lions occasionally kill livestock and when elephants and hippos destroy crops, affected communities see them as troublesome rather than advantageous and would prefer to live without them. But rural people accept these animals if they can benefit from them. Sustainable utilisation of natural renewable resources is embodied in Namibia’s constitution. Elephant, rhino and hippo are especially protected species in Namibia, while lions and other big cats are under general protection. Trophy hunting and tourism make a vital contribution to job creation and the eradication of poverty in Namibia.   

Gé Pellini is not charging anything for the unique sculpture created from white marble. His assistant is Kambezunda Ngavee, a Namibian art student, who is working on a 100 kg block of marble under Pellini’s watchful eye. With his sweat-inducing work the French sculptor has done his part for the protection of rhino and elephant in Namibia. On Friday (25 August) a three-metre aluminium horn will be attached to the marble rhino. Hopefully the HUAP Foundation will receive a generous offer for this piece of art. Offers can already be made online. The rhino sculpture and other items will be auctioned on 31 August at a gala dinner at the Windhoek Country Club. For more details visit the HUAP website and online auction

Dirk Heinrich

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