A pair of Abu Dhabi brothers who are using their artistic talents to put the world in the picture about the plight of endangered animals have won an international accolade.
School pupils Rahul and Rohan Raju have been named 2018 International Young Eco-Heroes by US-based non-profit organisation Action for Nature for their efforts to help protect endangered species – one painting at a time.
Young artists Rahul, 16, who attends Bhavans School, and Rohan, 13, a pupil at Dunes International School, have painted pictures of elephants, rhinos and other animals at risk, in addition to making objects using recycled material.
The works of art have gone on display all over the globe, from London to New York, catching the eyes of many and helping to draw attention to a cause close to their hearts.
Their father, K V J Raju, said the duo have been interested in both art and animals since a young age.
“Their mother, Sunita, is an artist,” Mr Raju said.
“I used to take them to the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre. They read articles about what is happening in the world and that gave them the thought to do something to encourage sustainability.”
Abu Dhabi Art Hub has worked with the boys to help develop their talent, Mr Raju said.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, who is the Minister for Culture, Youth, and Social Development, bought some of their artwork in a recent exhibition.
The siblings donated the proceeds to the Make a Wish Foundation to help children suffering from chronic illness.
“All children grow up learning about these animals – starting with A for ant, E for elephant and so on. But once you grow up, you realise the harsh reality that animals like lions, tigers, cheetahs, tigers that are supposed to be common are endangered,” Rahul said.
“That is something that alarmed us. An elephant is killed every 15 minutes and a rhino is killed every 11 hours. We don’t have many of these beautiful animals left. I believe with these artworks we are able to raise awareness and inspire people to do what we are doing,” he said.
Established in 2003, the International Young Eco-Hero Awards recognise young people between the ages of 8 and 16 who aim to solve tough environmental problems.
This year’s Eco-Heroes include 19 young people from nine countries. They are judged by a panel of experts in environmental science, biology, and education.