Irish Embassy mark St Patrick’s Day by ‘greening’ leopard statue

Chui the Leopard, Karuru Forest, Nairobi, Kenya
Chui the Leopard, Karuru Forest, Nairobi, Kenya.

To mark Ireland’s National Day – St. Patrick’s Day – Ireland’s Ministry of Tourism launched an Annual Global Greening Initiative in 2009.  The global campaign sees some of the world’s most famous attractions and iconic images going ‘Green’ on 17th March during Ireland’s National Day celebrations.

This year, the 10th Annual Global Greening Initiative will span all five continents, and in Kenya the Embassy of Ireland will ‘Green’ a leopard statue.

The Embassy of Ireland began ‘Greening’ the Big Five in 2016.  In conjunction with the National Museum and Kenya Wildlife Services, the Embassy ‘Greened’ “Ahmed” the iconic elephant at the National Museum.  In 2017, the statue of the mama and baby rhinoceroses at the National Park in Nairobi was ‘Greened’.  In 2018 the Embassy commissioned and ‘Greened’ a Lion statue, which was made entirely from recycled flip-flops; which helped to highlight the plight of the lion and also to bring attention to ocean waste and recycling initiatives.  The statute of the Lion, named Taji, was donated to the Kenya Wildlife Service and now sits at the entrance to the Safari Walk in Nairobi’s National Park for all to enjoy.

This year a Leopard statue – named Chui – will be ‘Greened’.  The statue is made entirely from scrap metal which has been recycled and made by a local artisan from Kibera.

The purpose of ‘Greening’ the Chui statue is four-fold:  to make people aware of the presence of the Irish in Kenya;  to bring attention to the plight of the Leopard whose habitat is in danger; to create awareness of the need to recycle waste materials; and to promote much-needed employment for local artisans.

The leopard population in Africa is being threatened due to the loss of its habitat, a side effect of man encroaching on the natural environment of leopards and other wildlife. Providing visibility to leopards through the ‘Greening’ of Chui also contributes to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals; specifically – Goal 1: No Poverty; Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; and Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

Some Leopard Facts:

  • The Leopard is the most secretive and elusive big cat, and arguably one of the most beautiful members of the entire Panthera genus.
  • Because of its adapted retinas, leopards can see seven times better in the dark than humans.
  • Portrayed as the most seldom seen, leopards are actually the most widely distributed African big cat. They can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from desert country to equatorial forests, high mountains to coasts. A few can be also spotted on the outskirts of large cities like Pretoria, Harare and Nairobi.
  • Leopards are spectacular hunters! Not only are they quite fast and can run up to 58km/h, but they are also famous for their incredible agility and strength to climb trees while dragging a kill that is sometimes heavier than their own body weight. 
  • Leopards survive on a variety of prey. For example, in some regions of southern Africa 80% of their diet comprises of rock hyrax. In the Kalahari Desert they are known to favor the bat-eared fox. Leopards also eat fish, insects, reptiles, birds, rodents, porcupines, mongoose, baboons, genets and monkeys.
  • How do you tell the difference between a leopard, cheetah and jaguar? Look at the spots! Leopards have rosette spots on the body and solid black spots on the legs, head and sides.

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