SOUTH AFRICA prides itself on its great wild animals. Among the Big Five is the magnificent rhino, which in recent years has been driven to near extinction with poaching reaching an epidemic scale.

As a country with such a rich culture and heritage, each and every one of us should stand up against rhino poaching and protect our beloved creatures.

To celebrate the work of highly talented crafters and our natural heritage, King Shaka International Airport yesterday unveiled Nkanyezi (“Shining Star”) at News Café.

It is the second in a series of decorated public art rhinos commissioned by eThekwini Community Foundation.

Dignitaries from across SA united for the unveiling of the brilliant artwork.

They included eThekwini Community Foundation director Kathryn Kure; US Consul General in Durban, Taylor V Ruggles; US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Dr Reuben Brigety; eThekwini municipal manager Sbu Sithole; eThekwini Speaker, councillor Logie Naidoo, Members of Parliament and the crafters.

A diverse group of community crafters were tasked with uniting around the cause of saving the rhino, thereby fostering social cohesion and ensuring that their voices are heard in the conversation.

This high-impact public art piece publicises the crafters’ work, enhances tourist potential and helps to generate publicity to stimulate sales.

Nkanyezi was decorated by seven craft collectives and sponsored by the US Consulate in Durban in partnership with the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

Speaking at the launch, Kure said: “Today, we all stand together, those who fight wildlife crime and those involved in craft.

“Governments, both local and international, business and non-profit organisations all unite to say – in a myriad different ways and with many voices in many different languages – this one thing: ‘Love Our Rhino’.

“The rhino belong to us – to all of us. Let us, like the crafters, come together at the rhino, this magnificent, amazing creature and remember anew our duty of care to protect and cherish all the things of this Earth, our people and our land.

“Our communities deserve no less than this,” Kure said.