UHI Orkney student raises awareness for endangered rhinos

There are only 76 Javan rhinoceroses left in the world, making them one of a group of 17 listed as critically endangered by the World Wildlife Fund.

As part of an NC in Art and Design at Orkney College, student Gillian Morrison set about raising awareness of the plight of endangered species.  She organised early morning sessions with students and college staff, and with friends and community contacts, to help them make 76 origami rhinos, representing each of the threatened animals.

“I was delighted and grateful that so many people got involved,” she said. "You need to make 32 separate folds to make the origami rhino so everyone did brilliantly.” 

One lecturer, Dr Gabrielle Barnby, was afterwards inspired to write a poem about the Javan rhinos, which captures perfectly the sadness of their situation, and one of the 76 rhinos is made from a print of this poem.


Rhino, thick-sckinned, dagger-toothed beast,
Horned, lumbering, wallowing mass
In Javan jungle with the Jubjub bird;
Night-blind...blinking...delicate-lipped soul,
One by one, the solitary becomes

Gabrielle Barnby

Three origami rhinos standing in grass

Another contributor used a print of a photograph she had taken personally of a Sumatran rhino in 1988 to make her origami rhino.  Poignantly, its forest habitat has now disappeared, along with the rhinos.  Some of the contributors named their rhinos, for example ‘Jeevan’ which is Hindi for ‘life’. 

The rhinoceros is only one of our many critically endangered animals, marine mammals, birds, plants and other species. Gillian adds: “we are the dominant species in our world so it is up to us collectively to demonstrate the stewardship needed in our decision-making to protect other species globally.”