Wild Baby Leopard
Sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China
CONSERVATION STATUS Vulnerable
At 3 months of age, this little boy is finally old enough to follow his mother out on a hunt. Picking their way through the jungles of India, they search for something to eat. He stays as quiet as he can, fighting the urge to playfully launch himself at his mother's swinging tail, but after hours of searching they have found nothing. In the distance they can see a farm, and he can sense his mother's unease- it’s dangerous taking from the humans, but this time, it seems they have no choice.
Earning the title of the smallest amongst the big cats, the leopard is also one of the most adaptable, and are able to live in almost any type of habitat- from deserts to swamps. They are solitary creatures who spend their days sleeping and their night's hunting, using their spotted “rosette” coat as camouflage, easily blending in with their surrounds.
They are extremely capable climbers, and spend a lot of their time in the branches of trees. Oftentimes dragging their prey, which can weigh more than they do, up there with them to protect it from scavenging animals. They're not fussy eaters, happy to hunt whatever comes their way; from a gazelle to a cheetah cub, or even a snake.
Leopards usually give birth to at least two cubs at a time, who are small and grey, with barely visible spots. They are completely helpless at this early age, and are moved by their mother between different safe locations until they are old enough to start playing, and learning to hunt. While they are vulnerable to different predators, their biggest threat comes from other leopards. At about 3 months old, the cubs can follow their mother on hunts and by one year, they can hunt for themselves. While they will stay with their mother until around 2 years of age, the first 12 months of their lives in the most dangerous, with a mortality rate of between 41-50%.
By far, the biggest threat to leopards is habitat loss and fragmentation, with their forested homes being turned into agricultural land. In Africa alone, it has been estimated that 66% of their territory is gone due to human expansion. This in turn reduces their natural prey, forcing them to look to livestock which has deep repercussions when the farmers retaliate. They are also a target for trophy hunters and poachers, with their coats a coveted item on the illegal wildlife trade, as well as their bones.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.