South African Mint’s New Big 5 Coin: Leopard

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The South African Mint, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has announced the launch of the penultimate coin in the Big 5 series, featuring the leopard. The South African Mint has a long tradition of minting coins that pay homage to South Africa’s rich biodiversity and revered wildlife that have great significance to its international identity and ecological heritage. In continuing its time honoured legacy, the South African Mint launched the bi-annual Big 5 coin programme last year featuring wildlife synonymous with Southern Africa – the Elephant, Lion, Rhinoceros, Leopard and the Buffalo.

South Africa / 24 ct gold / 1 oz / Proof

The exquisite range sees each one of these majestic creatures featured on a variety of precious metal. The leopard (Scientific name: Panthera Pardus) is the most difficult of the Big 5 to spot in the African bush. Besides being shy, secretive and mainly nocturnal, leopards have distinctive dark spots called rosettes, which create a pattern against their otherwise light fur making them extremely difficult to trace and locate in the savannas.

The coin range consists of a 24ct 1oz proof gold coin, a 1oz proof platinum coin, a brilliant uncirculated (BU) fine silver coin and a proof quality silver double capsule set. The range also includes two combination sets – the 1oz Big 5 Leopard and 1oz Krugerrand privy marked fine silver proof coin set, and the 1oz Big 5 Leopard and 1oz Krugerrand privy marked gold proof coin set.

The Big 5 leopard coin range’s distinctive design gives an impressively detailed depiction of the elusive wild cat. The reverse of the coin features two halves of the face of a leopard and when two coins are placed next to each other, a complete image of the face is seen. When multiple coins are placed next to each other, a leap of leopards is formed. The obverse of the coins feature a breath-taking side view of the leopard, with its characteristic spots indented in the metal. The face fills up much of the surface area of the coin, and the words ‘South Africa’, ‘Big 5 2020’ appear below the image, with the national coat-of-arms in the centre signifying its legal tender status.

Leopards are listed on the IUCN Red List because populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation as illegal hunting continues. Image: tropicaLiving / CC BY-SA 3.0

When it first launched the coin programme in 2019, the South African Mint made a commitment to support conservation efforts directed at protecting the Big 5.To this end, a partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) was announced at the beginning of 2020. The WCT is an organisation whose task it is to identify viable conservation initiatives and match them with people or organisations who have the capacity and/ or funds to fulfil them.

Speaking on the occasion, South African Mint Managing Director, Honey Mamabolo said, “Just as the SARB is the guarantor of the value in the banknotes and coins it issues, it is the duty of all South Africans to safeguard the value of our ecological heritage.”

“Through this partnership we support the WCT’s work in protecting the rhino and big cat species like the leopard and the cheetah. The Big 5 can strike at will in their natural habitat but their pace and power has posed little danger to human greed and activity” she added.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, widely recognised as the most comprehensive and authoritative benchmark for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species, ranks the leopard as a “vulnerable species” with a high risk of becoming extinct in the wild.

Speaking of the partnership, WCT Founder and Trustee, Lente Roode says, “Our strategy is to build alliances that enable us to leverage resources and achieve greater impact. Collaboration with institutions like the South African Mint are key to our work. For one, they amplify our visibility through their products which have a global audience. The Big Five’s influence looms large on our tourism prospects, the more people we can attract means better resources for conservation.”

“We are living in unprecedented times due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and at the same time living through the most important period for conservation. The future of many of the species we are hoping to protect lies firmly in the conservation actions we take today. The South African Mint’s decision to partner with us in our ambition to advance conservation is timely and welcome,” adds Roode.

“We hope this partnership will contribute to creating a positive future for endangered animals. By collaborating with the WCT, we are investing in South Africa’s wildlife and taking meaningful action towards restoring South Africa’s position as the home of the big five,” concludes Mamabolo.


For more information visit the website of the South African Mint.

And here you can find the Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The first coin of this series was dedicated to the elephant, the second to the rhino.

In February 2020, Honey Mamabolo was appointed new Managing Director of the South African Mint.

If you want to learn more about the “Big Five”, visit the Africa Travel Co website.