Rhino - YOU AIN'T COOL, YOU A FOOL! uses the metaphor of Mr T. and the status symbol, gold loving caricature to call out the poaching of all Rhino species due to the demand from China and to a much greater scale, Vietnam for powdered Rhino Horn. The trade is linked directly to rapid economic growth and new found wealth amongst the middle class.
As with the Ivory trade, Rhino Horn is used as a status symbol amongst the wealthy elite. It is used as an elixir to detoxify the body from excessive alcohol consumption, and for miracle cures for anything from the common cold all the way to cancer. The thing is that Rhino Horn is composed entirely of keratin. It is virtually indistinguishable from human hair and finger nails. To say that Rhino Horn cures cancer or cures the common cold is to say that biting and eating your fingernails will do the same thing. And for that, all Rhino species are on the verge of extinction.
Laws have not done much as the wealthy will find a way to feed the illegal trade. What has worked before and must happen now is a cultural shift. The people who do this must know that they are no longer in the shadows. The world will not accept this behavior anymore. It is no longer cool to use rhino horn. We must speak up now before we lose these magnificent animals.
Of course the reality of the man who plays Mr T. is the opposite of a status symbol, gold loving caricature, which makes for an even more powerful metaphor for rhino horn. To quote The Princess Bride, "I do not think it means what you think it means."
Artist: Rob Whitehair
Digital mixed media: Pencil on Procreate, Photoshop, Acrylic