Sunday, August 9th, 2009 at
Photo Details: Life-sized bronze sculpture of a black rhino (Diceros bicornis) standing at the entrance to the Centenary Game Capture Centre, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Additional Info: South African sculptor Dylan Lewis was commissioned by the former Natal Parks Board (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) to create the rhino – known as the Centenary Rhino – in the mid-90s to celebrate 100 years of conservation in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is renowned for its Operation Rhino that helped save the white rhino from extinction in the early years of the 20th century when fewer than 50 animals remained. Since the start of Operation Rhino in the 1960s, more than 10,000 white rhino have been translocated worldwide. See our article, Rhino Capture and Relocation, for more.
In 2007 an identical version of Lewis’s original rhino was auctioned at Christie’s in London to an anonymous buyer in the U.S. for $356,000.00.
Dr George Hughes, former CEO of the Natal Parks Board who commissioned Lewis to sculpt the rhino in the early 1990s, explained at the time that he’d been trying to find a sculptor to carve about five rhino horns, held in the vaults of the Natal Parks Board headquarters in Pietermaritzburg, to commemorate 100 years of conservation in the province.
“When I first met Dylan in 1993, his talent was only just beginning to be recognised – but he told me that he was not really interested in carving up our valuable rhino horns. He wanted to sculpt something much bigger and grander . . . which is how he came to create the black rhino ….”
Lewis, whose wildlife sculptures include a series of African big cat predators, says his animal works “explore the idea of wilderness in a more literal way, incorporating the textures of landscape into the animal surfaces and forms”. The sculptor’s more recent work has focused on the human form as depicted in his current exhibition, Shapeshifting: From Animal to Human, at Christie’s in South Kensington, London.