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Fiberglass Rhinos Popped Up Around London Bring Awareness To Poaching

Mysterious, brightly colored, and silver fiberglass rhinoceroses sprouted up all over London, baffling locals and tourists alike. But these visually stunning displays are not meant to confuse people, but rather educate them on the growing issue of African rhino poaching.

In total, this herd was made up of 21 uniquely designed rhinoceroses meant to bring awareness to the endangered species who have nearly been poached to extinction. They're all part of a charity art installation put on by Tusk Trust, a non-profit British organization aimed at supporting conservation intervention in Africa. The entire project has been titled Rhino Trail.

On their website, Tusk explains each rhino in the display has been sponsored by a supporter or partner of the organization and were specially created by a collection of the world's leading contemporary artists and designers.

"We are at a crisis point where the threat to rhino from poaching means a very real risk of losing this near prehistoric species forever to extinction," Tusk CEO Charlie Mayhew said in a statement. "Tusk is incredibly grateful to all the amazing artists, generous sponsors and partners involved in the Tusk Rhino Trail for joining forces with us to work toward a future for rhino and other threatened species across Africa. Through the Trail, we hope to inspire as many people as possible to join us in the fight."

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Humane Society International (HSI) claims Africa's black rhinos are critically endangered and currently have a population of under 5,000, while only 3,000 one-horned rhinos are left in India and Nepal.

Rhino horns are a particularly valuable component of traditional Chinese medicine, which is practiced in several parts of Eastern Asia. Because of this, hundreds of rhinos are illegally killed every year for their valuable horns. The global poaching crisis is now the fourth largest criminal industry in the world, only after drugs, arms, and human trafficking, Tusk claims.

According to CTV, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was the leading patron for the Rhino Trail. In fact, several of the rhino structures are currently on display at the gardens of Kensington Palace, as well as at other London sites including Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.

Rolling Stones musician and budding artist Ronnie Wood, also a patron of the art installation, designed and created his own rhino to be put on display. His brightly colored sculpture of the species includes a painting of the African landscape on the rhino's side and the words "unity and freedom" on its face.

The installation concluded on Sept. 22, 2018, internationally recognized as World  Rhino Day, with an auction to follow on Oct. 9, 2018, at the London auction house, Christie's.

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