(AA) – Artists from South Africa and China on Monday united for the rhino cause in the halls of the historic Old Land Bank building in Cape Town.
World-famous Chinese pianist and composer Tian Jiang collaborated with lead singer of local music sensation Freshlyground, Zolani Mahola, to raise awareness about rhino poaching, something that has been plaguing South Africa for years now.
According to recent statistics from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, a staggering 1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers in 2014 compared with 13 only in 2005.
Last year, 386 people were arrested in connection with rhino poaching, compared to 165 in 2010, the department said.
“My band has been involved for a long time,” Zolani Mahola, 33, told The Anadolu Agency.
“We have done many performances for many foundations and rhino projects,” she added.
Mahola said he and his band would continue to push for the protection of “beloved rhinos.”
Zolani and Jiang filled their audiences with awe with their solo and duet performances that were coupled with ballet and aerial silks.
The performance called for contributing to and supporting Rhino Disharmony organization, which makes efforts to educate the public about rhinos.
“Music is a leveller,” Mahola said. “It’s about spreading awareness,” she added.
He told the audience that he and other people were just trying to have one global voice on the cause of rhinos.
In the audience, interior design couple Brian, 75, and Jay Smith, 65, urged support for rhinos.
Andre Carl van der Merwe, 54, who brought public discussion recently from his sculpture located at the Sea Point promenade, expressed hopes that there would be awareness about rhinos.
“Education is key,” he said. “People simply do not know that till they are standing on the brink of extinction of one of the most iconic animals. The somewhat educated west does know the extent of the problem,” he added.
-China’s black market-
The import and export of rhino horns have been banned since the 1980s.
However, the increase of rhino horns in traditional Chinese medicines has been the primary push in its market, according to the Save the Rhino Trust, which works to protect the animal.
“The end user is China, which is the root at the whole thing,” Mahola said.
“We must get the youth in China and other parts of the world to know that slaughtering Rhinos is not cool, no matter the use,” she added.
Merwe, meanwhile, said the “nouveau riche” in China – who are the biggest economic force in the country – apparently eat endangered species as a status symbol.
Although South Africa has tightened laws and increased efforts to prevent rhino poaching, black market prices seem to proportionately reward the risk.
“The biggest part is education,” Merwe said. “One needs to express his/her version of value,” he added.
He said killing the rhino as an aphrodisiac was nonsensical.
“The rhino horn has the nutritional value of a toe nail,” Merwe said.
Rhino Disharmony connects several organisations that seek to protect the rhino and through art, music and performance seeks to “dig deeper into people’s awareness and perhaps even initiate a shift in thinking and perception”, according to Anthony Watterson who chaired Monday’s event.
“It is the spirit that you bring to it,” Watterson said. “There was a genuine interaction between Tian Jiang and me,” he added.
He noted that he and Jiang were passionately hurt by the slaughter of the rhinos.
“He [Jiang] brings that power into his performances,” Watterson said.
The rhino is a national symbol in South Africa, but if poaching continues at its current rate, this country may lose an important part of its heritage.
Rhino Disharmony is part of an international social media campaign titled “#ShareToBeAware”.
Jiang is the first Chinese ambassador for Rhino Disharmony that has local celebrities joining the cause.