South African based artist, Sonny, has certainly been travelling the world with his latest wildlife protection campaign “‘To The Bone”. We have seen him bring endangered species to the forefront of conversations as he raises funds and much needed awareness with his huge murals, with support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Sonny spent seven days with the ever changing weather, and 240 litres of paint, to produce his latest wild animal in the city of Vladivostok, Russian Far East.
His animal of choice was the Far Eastern Leopard, one of the world’s most endangered big cats, of which only a mere eighty are left in the wild.
The Far Eastern leopard is in grave danger of extinction due to numerous factors, including habitat degradation, poaching and prey depletion, inbreeding and disease, and competitive interactions with tigers.
In creating the Leopard Mural in Russia, IFAW allied with the Russian non-commercial organization Far Eastern Leopards, Far Eastern Federal University and the National Park Land of Leopards.
“Painting in Vladivostok has been an incredible experience, especially as I was also able to visit the Land of the Leopard to see the good work that is being done to protect these beautiful animals. I hope that this mural will inspire people to support these conservation initiatives. The wall is 250m2 in size and is made up of over 200 different shades of colour. This is the fourth mural of my To The Bone project, with artworks already on the streets of Johannesburg, New York and Canada.” Sonny
“We are very glad that this project took place in Russia as part of the Sonny’s global action To the Bone, with IFAW supporting it worldwide, and Vladivostok has now a gigantic mural of such strong, gracious and at the same time vulnerable animal like the Far Eastern Leopard. This is not just a sign that environmentalists worldwide pay so much attention to the conservation of this rare big cat, but also an appeal protect the endangered species in general.” Masha Vorontsova IFAW Russia Director
National Park Land of the Leopards’ Director Tayana Baranovskaya thinks the mural’s location is symbolic due to the big cat looking towards the West where just 20 kilometers away, across the Amur Bay, lays the leopard’s main habitat.
“The relatives of this beast are living there, beautiful but regretfully rare big cats. Losing them would mean the loss of a part of our culture, a part of our pride. I’m sure that this leopard sitting on the top of the hill will not just become a city’s landmark figure, but will also remind the people of how critical it is to treat the nature carefully, and push them for change of their approach to wildlife.” Tayana Baranovskaya
“The Far Eastern Leopards Fund (or Endowment – I.B.) which I represent was established for research, conservation and recreation of the leopard population inhabiting the Primorsky Region. One of the main goals of our entity is to involve lots of people in the leopard conservation. The art is in my opinion a very efficient instrument in this regard. We express our sincere gratitude to the International Fund for Animal Welfare for being a partner in this project and thank personally Masha Vorontsova, IFAW Russia and CIS Director for their support of our environmental initiatives.” Elena Gongalo, Director General of the Far Eastern Leopards non-commercial organisation.
Sonny will soon be making the journey to London! Watch this space…