An endangered species of wild cat has been spotted on the streets of London, with reported sightings around Paternoster Square.
It’s all part of The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, one which supports scientists and conservationists working to save big cats in the wild.
With Big Cat Month in full swing on the Nat Geo WILD channel and endangered species a strong theme in both National Geographic magazines and its highly successful licensing campaign, National Geographic is underlining its commitment to animals under threat of extinction.
But the latest promotional event for the Big Cats Initiative took awareness to another level.
On Tuesday 5 February, a missing cat poster appeared in London’s Paternoster Square – but not on a wall or building. The vast 260 sq. ft poster, designed by street artist Dean Zeus Colman and showing Archie the lion with the headline ‘Have You Seen Archie’?’, was painted onto the ground.
As the day went on it gained a lot of attention but it also slowly started to disappear, unwittingly rubbed out by members of the public as they went about their business.
The aim was to create a tangible reminder that lions are being wiped out and that National Geographic believes we need to act fast. The stunt has inspired coverage both of the street poster and of the Big Cats Initiative as a whole in national and international press, as well as consumer and trade press, radio and TV.
Dr Amy Dickman, National Geographic Explorer and Senior Research Fellow in Field Conservation at University of Oxford, has been kept very busy by the campaign. Dickman, who runs the Ruaha Carnivore Project in Tanzania, is a leading authority on big cats and has already taken part in over 18 radio interviews across the country. She has also appeared on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire current affairs programme and is set to appear on Sky News soon.
Meanwhile the initiative is moving to Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and Leeds and other UK cities with physical posters that direct people to visit ‘savearchie.com’, where they can find more information about the Big Cats Initiative.
Awareness of animals and threats to their existence is also being supported across the Nation Geographic portfolio, including its licensing campaign, which has seen Clarks announce a range of footwear for both kids and adults using a collection of photographs by Joel Satore the founder of the Photo Ark, a ground-breaking effort to document all animals in captivity before they disappear.
Photo Ark has also inspired Ravensburger to launch a 1000-piece puzzle product called 99 Amazing Animals. Topps, meanwhile, has recently launched a highly successful National Geographic Kids Animals Sticker Collection.
The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, set up un 2009, supports scientists and conservationists working to save big cats in the wild. With public help, it has supported more than 120 innovative projects to protect big cat species in 28 countries and built more than 1,800 livestock enclosures to protect livestock and save big cats from retaliatory killings.
Helena Mansell Stopher, director, consumer products, UK & Europe, National Geographic said: “The effect of this initiative has been a powerful one in recent years, but it now reaches across the National Geographic portfolio with strong support from all our business and research areas – TV, publishing, social media, licensing and much more.
"We’re all thrilled at being part of this headline-making effort to raise awareness of the pressing need to protect big cats.”