Stencil graffiti of silenced black leopard goes viral, then mysteriously disappears

Photos: Headache Stencil/Facebook
Photos: Headache Stencil/Facebook

Photos of a piece of stencil graffiti featuring a black leopard with a computer’s mute symbol went viral on Saturday, when Headache Stencil, a group of Bangkok-based stencil graffiti artists, posted it on their Facebook page — one day after he completed the controversial artwork.

Garnering 41,000 reactions and over 37,500 shares in three days, netizens replaced their profile or cover photos with the artist’s graffiti. Some used hashtags such as #RIPBlackPanther and left raging comments in reference of the headline-making case in which Italian-Thai Development company CEO Premchai Karnasuta is accused of hunting and killing a protected black panther, among other animals, in a Kanchanaburi wildlife sanctuary alongside three friends.

The foursome was arrested last month and face many charges related to illegally hunting protected animals.

The graffiti, which appeared on Sukhumvit Soi 58, was assumed to be making the statement that advocates for the animal won’t be heard, nor will the animal himself, who was allegedly silenced by the billionaire.

The street art was already removed by Saturday, and on Sunday, the Headache Stencil page wrote, “Sorry for those who hoped to take pictures with the black leopard graffiti. Officials have already removed it,” though it is unclear if it was removed by officials or whomever owns the wall.

The Premchai case has enraged Thais across the country, leading students to hold demonstrations in which they wore black panther masks.

OPINION: Why students at Thailand’s top uni protesting killing of protected panther matters

The collective also posted a picture of the panther piece on Instagram with the Thai caption “Mute the sounds of complaints. Mute the sounds of those who have doubts. Mute the sounds to cover up for the bastard. If you mute the sounds too often, the animals will be extinct.”

They also followed up with an appreciated — if imperfect — sentence in English, presumably for foreign readers: “If you have money a lot, you can killed any wild animals without guilty here.”

On another post, the collective shared this poem in English:

Turn off the light.
The beginning of the dark side.
Your brain is so bright.
But the world’s not that nice

The black panther died.
The bullet from that guy.
The country is on fire.
The justice has been denied.

The artists later posted a picture of the now-blank wall with the caption, “Why did you remove it, I’m confused as hell.”

The artist collective can’t be that confused though. They are also behind the viral photos of last month’s graffiti of Deputy PM Prawit Wonsuwon’s face on a watch, implying that the time was up for the official and his undocumented fancy watch collection.

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