An internationally exhibited photograph of a leopard by renowned South African filmmaker and photographer, Beverley Joubert, helped to turn the spotlight on endangered species at an auction in Cape Town this week.
Joubert’s Eye of the Leopard was auctioned for R25,260 at The Great Cellar in Constantia by Stephan Welz & Co. on Tuesday, 26th May. A substantial percentage of the proceeds is to be donated to the initiative, Rhinos without Borders.
The image was shot in the Okavango Delta on Chief’s Island in 2003 during the filming of the documentary, Eye of the Leopard. It has been exhibited at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. and at the Galerie du Lion in Orléans, France.
“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” said Dereck Joubert, who, along with his wife, are behind an emergency action fund to drive the world’s attention to big cats.
“All wildlife is precious,” said Beverley Joubert. “We support Rhinos Without Borders because we are simply running out of time to save this majestic species, with one rhino being poached every 7.5 hours. This is a project of hope; an investment in the future of not only a species, but also in Africa.”
“Many professional wildlife photographers create either aesthetically beautiful work that captures the essence and spirit of animals in their natural habitat or thought-provoking photo journalism, thereby raising awareness of the plight of wildlife in the public arena,” said Sophie-Louise Fröhlich, Head of Photography at Stephan Welz & Co. “Eye of the Leopard is not just an arresting and interesting photograph of a leopard, but has a story behind it and will be used towards contributing to making a difference in preventing the extinction of rhinos.”
With all five species of rhinos perilously close to extinction, the rate of their decline is truly astounding: in the 1970s alone, half the world’s rhino population disappeared. Today, less than 15% of that already diminished population remains. There are but an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 rhinos left worldwide, which is why funds raised through the sale of this photograph will benefit Rhinos without Borders.
The initiative aims to relocate at least 100 rhinos from South Africa to Botswana, the country with the lowest poaching rate in Africa, to save them from the poaching crisis. A dedicated anti-poaching rhino squad has been established to protect and monitor these animals, which will help to ensure the survival of the species and gene pool.