New mural at Boat Quay underpass features adorable leopard cats taking over S'pore

Over 160 adults and children helped to paint the community mural.

Zi Shan Kow | December 21, 2021, 10:18 AM

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At the end of the stretch of shophouses along Boat Quay, beneath Elgin Bridge, a bright and colourful 20-metre-long mural can be found along the underpass.

This mural aims to raise awareness on Singapore's last wildcat, one that outlived tigers and leopards.

About the size of a domestic cat, the leopard cat is critically endangered with fewer than 50 individuals living in the wild in Singapore.

Mural that raises awareness on leopard cats

The mural, a community art project titled "Painting the Future of Our Last Wildcat", was organised by Singapore Wildcat Action Group (SWAG), in collaboration with Mural Lingo and Singapore River One.

The mural depicts the city landscape from eastern to western Singapore, with landmarks such as Tuas Port, Central Business District, Bugis shophouses, Changi Airport, and Jewel.

Hidden in the foliage and amongst the buildings of the city are numerous leopard cats and other native wildlife.

Can you spot and identify all the animals?

While the star of the show are the leopard cats, other easter eggs in the mural include animals that face similar threats to the wildcats: deforestation, poaching, and roadkill.

These wildlife include wild boars, Raffles' banded langurs, and pangolins.

The mural will be up for public viewing for two years, until Dec. 2023.

A community mural

The mural also aims to educate the public about the challenges faced by leopard cats and other wildlife, and the urgent need to preserve what's left of our nature spaces in Singapore.

Image by SWAG.

Image by SWAG.

The mural design includes an embedded QR code where members of the public can learn more about the leopard cat and our other wild neighbours.

With this mural, SWAG hopes that it can sensitise members of the public about the wildlife that live among us, and create a more compassionate society where these animals can be respected and protected.

"Conservation begins with awareness. We hope to motivate people from all walks of life to come together and engineer creative solutions for the survival of our last wildcat," said a SWAG representative.

The project was made possible by Mandai Nature, 8Connect and the international community who supported the Kickstarter campaign

Over 160 adults and children helped to paint the mural, spending a total of more than 30 hours on the mural between Dec. 11 and 19.

"The idea of a community mural is that everyone can come and paint together, and through that process take ownership of our natural heritage," said Rachel Lee, the project lead for the SWAG campaign.

A photo with the leopard cat lovingly named Captain Leo. Image by Kow Zi Shan.

Image by Yusri Yusoff.

Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How also visited those who were working on the mural on Saturday (Dec. 18).

He also contributed by painting one of the leopard cats on the mural.

Conserving leopard cats in Singapore

The two main threats faced by leopard cats in Asia are poaching and habitat loss, according to Marcus Chua, a mammal researcher at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Based on his research, there are about 20 to 21 of these wild cats on Pulau Tekong, and fewer than 20 on mainland Singapore.

At the same time, the local population of leopard cats is so small that it is difficult to get a good population estimate.

To contribute to the conservation of leopard cats in Singapore, it is important to raise awareness on the issue through public outreach and education.

In Singapore, the elusive leopard cats are largely found as carcasses, as a result of roadkill.

When driving near nature areas, drivers are encouraged to slow down and keep an eye out for wildlife on roads.

Image by SWAG.

If members of the public encounter roadkills, reporting these sightings to the authorities can help identify these hotspot areas.

Conserving the critically endangered wild cats also means protecting our green spaces and creating more links between forested areas.

To enhance leopard cat habitats, SWAG also planted 49 trees in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Dec. 5 and 11, in collaboration with the National Parks Board's OneMillionTrees movement.

Learn more about leopard cats

From now until Feb. 28 2022, the Wallace Education Centre at Dairy Farm Nature Park is hosting an exhibit all about leopard cats in Singapore.

Titled "Love Our Leopard Cats", the exhibition highlights their ecology, distribution, and challenges, and introduces visitors to a few individuals.

SWAG also made a mini-documentary on these rarely-spotted creatures in Singapore.

Photo by Lee Kellie.

Photo by Lee Kellie.

Address: 50 Dairy Farm Rd Singapore 679059

Dates: Until Feb. 28 2022

Time: 8.30am to 5pm (Closed on Mondays).

Top images by Kow Zi Shan.