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Taronga CEO Cameron Kerr and Minister Robyn Parker at the Wild! Rhinos launch
Taronga CEO Cameron Kerr and Minister Robyn Parker at the Wild! Rhinos launch

Environment Minister Robyn Parker today announced the launch of the Wild Rhino’s project at the Sydney Opera House.

Ms Parker said the project involves sculptures of life-size black rhinoceroses, which have been decorated by famous artists, schools and community groups, and will be displayed across NSW from Sydney to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

“Three out of five rhino species are now critically endangered due to habitat loss and illegal poaching,” Ms Parker said.

“This is a unique conservation program that will engage everyone in NSW in this vital cause to help save rhinoceroses from an epidemic of poaching.  If we don’t act, the number of rhinos poached will exceed the birth rate by 2016 tipping them towards extinction.

“Taronga Zoo has taken conservation beyond the zoos and into the community to inspire conservation awareness through art.

“Schools from across the across the state will have their rhino’s displayed in major shopping centres from Sunday and have participated in an education program to learn more about conservation efforts.”

Tourism and Arts Minister George Souris said the project links urban and regional NSW with the 125 rhinos spread from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, Bathurst, Orange, Cowra, Parkes and Dubbo.

“It shows an innovative use of the arts to bring different communities together, and encourages regional tourism while raising conservation awareness,” Mr Souris said.

“In all, 55 adult rhino sculptures have been decorated and painted by leading Australian artists and designers including Ken Done and Camilla Frank, while 70 calf-sized sculptures were decorated by NSW school students from Wagga to Wenona.”

Taronga Zoo hopes to raise $400,000 at an auction of the sculptures in May to support their breeding and field conservation programs for rhinoceros.

People can explore the trail using digital mediums like QR codes to capture their discoveries and learn more about rhinos. Locations in Sydney include Customs House, the Opera House, the Botanic Gardens, Pitt Street Mall, Bondi and Manly.

For information and the trail map: www.tarongawildrhinos.org.au

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