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Leopard cat-themed train rolled out after scandal

2019/09/18 22:08:05

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (left) and Russian illustrator Katya Molodtsova

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) A train liveried in the theme of the leopard cat began service in central Taiwan Wednesday, concluding a month-long scandal in which a Taiwanese designer initially claimed illustrations by a Russian illustrator as her own to decorate the train.

The four-carriage train will run on the Jiji Line between Changhua and Nantou counties for the coming year and is expected to promote the cultural and natural resources of mountainous Jiji Township, said Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍).

Lin expressed hope that the special service will mark a new beginning for the township, which was devastated by the deadly 1999 Jiji earthquake, boost travel, and raise wildlife protection awareness, as the area is a major habitat for leopard cats.

The bright yellow train features leopard cat designs by both Taiwanese designer Chiang Meng-chih (江孟芝) and Russian illustrator Katya Molodtsova.

After Chiang, the original designer of the train, was found to have used pictures of leopards created by Molodtsova, her work was ordered removed, despite already having been used to decorate the train. The train was then re-designed.

Chiang admitted that she bought the images from stock photography provider Shutterstock for NT$300 (US$9.54) to be used for the NT$3 million project, for which she was widely criticized in Taiwan.

In the face of widespread criticism, Chiang agreed to donate NT$250,000 of her design fee to the Endemic Species Research Institute, which works to protect the leopard cat population in Taiwan.

Molodtsova also found herself under the Taiwan media spotlight due to the incident, and after the news broke, produced three new leopard cat illustrations that she said Taiwan could use free of charge.

Lin then left a message on Molodtsova's social media account thanking her for the new designs and inviting her to visit Taiwan.

As a result, Molodtsova arrived in Taiwan Tuesday, attended a ceremony to mark the train's inauguration, and will visit various attractions in Taiwan during a five-day visit, according to the Tourism Bureau.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Lee Hsin-Yin)
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