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‘Traditional church has to be won over to save leopards’ by JP du Plessis

Here’s an online article on Eyewitness News on our film and the topic at hand which included interviews on 702 and Cape Talk this morning:

Local leopard researchers on Thursday said they needed to win over Shembe Church leaders if they hoped to protect Southern Africa’s leopard population.

The church is deeply rooted in the Zulu culture and its members wear leopard skin for religious ceremonies.

As the church grows, a number of big cats are being threatened by unscrupulous skin traders who have stepped up illegal hunting to keep up with the demand.

Researchers said they respected the church’s traditional practices and would like to work with church leaders to protect leopard numbers.

Greg Lomas is part of a team filming a documentary called To Skin a Cat and said experts were exploring solutions which would not trample the Shembe’s traditional practices.

“The approach has always been to find a solution-based approach and the strongest tradition that we have come up with is to produce a high quality fake fur at a reasonable price, which would then take the demand off people having to own the real thing,” he said.

For more on this project visit www.toskinacat.org.


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Testimonials

"I wish you every success in your campaign to save the leopard from extinction and admire the way you are going about it. With the right approach that you are showing, success for both the leopard and the Shembe people/church will come." - Carmen Calleja