Huge leopard graffiti painted at a vista point near Zolotoy Bridge

Huge leopard graffiti painted at a vista point near Zolotoy Bridge

10 August 2017

A Far Eastern leopard is now looking down on Vladivostok from Orlinoye Gnezdo (Eagle’s Nest) Hill, the highest point in Vladivostok’s historical centre. The graffiti mural featuring the world's rarest wild cat was created by South African graffiti artist Sonny as part of the To The Bone international campaign to raise awareness of rare and endangered species.


The project was organised by the artist in cooperation with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). In Vladivostok, the initiative was co-sponsored by the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation, Far Eastern Federal University and Land of the Leopard National Park.


Sonny pointed out that the organisers selected the best possible location for painting a leopard: the vista point on Orlinoye Gnezdo Hill is very popular among local residents and tourists, and the leopard image can be easily spotted even from Zolotoy Bridge (Golden Bridge).


“Creating a painting in Primorye was an incredible experience for me, especially since I was given the opportunity to visit Land of the Leopard National Park and learn first-hand about the successful efforts to preserve these beautiful animals. I hope that this graffiti will inspire people to support nature protection efforts. The image covers a wall of about 250 square metres and boasts more than 200 tones. This is the fourth creation as part of my project To the Bone alongside paintings on the streets of Johannesburg, New York and Toronto,” Sonny said.


It took Sonny seven days to complete the graffiti in Vladivostok, not counting the time spent sketching and preparing the wall. About 240 litres of paint were used for the mural.


“We are very glad to have contributed to this project in Russia as part of the global initiative To the Bone. Vladivostok now has a grand graffiti mural by Sonny, showing the Far Eastern leopard, a strong and graceful yet at the same time vulnerable animal. It is not only a sign that the international nature protection community pays attention to the issue of preserving the world’s rarest wild cat, but also a call to preserve endangered species in general,” said Maria Vorontsova, IFAW regional director for Russia and the CIS.


Tatyana Baranovskaya, director of Land of the Leopard, noted that the place chosen for the leopard graffiti was highly symbolic: the leopard image looks to the west where Land of the Leopard National Park is located on the coast of Amur Bay within a distance of just 20 kilometres.


“This is where these animals live. These are wonderful, but unfortunately very rare, wild cats. If we let these leopards disappear, it would mean losing part of our culture and pride. I strongly believe that the leopard image on top of this hill will not only become a landmark in Vladivostok, but will also encourage everyone to care about nature, changing the way people treat animals and plants,” Tatyana Baranovskaya pointed out.


Yelena Gangalo, general director of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation, thanked IFAW for supporting the foundation’s nature protection initiatives and noted the importance of raising public awareness on leopard conservation.


“It is very important that this image seeks to raise public awareness about the conservation of wild nature, which is in line with the spirit of our organisation. The Far Eastern Leopards foundation, which I represent, was established with a view to studying, preserving and restoring the leopard population in Primorye. One of the foundation’s main objectives is to encourage a wider public to get involved in conservation efforts. I think that art is an effective tool,” said Yelena Gangalo, general director of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organisation.


Sonny’s unique paintings can be found on walls in many parts of the world. Vladivostok is the first Russian city to get a mural by Sonny.