Leopard fur has become customary ceremonial attire worn by the over five-million strong members of the Shembe church, which is part of the vibrant cultural landscape of South Africa for over 100 years. Previously worn by Zulu royalty and chiefs, the leopard furs, or amambatha as they are referred to locally, form a ceremonial, religious dress that symbolizes beauty, power and prestige. These amambatha are now desired by a growing number of male Shembe followers. At a single Shembe gathering, over 1,000 leopard skins are worn by members. Although many skins are old and are passed down from generation to generation, many new ones are a result of poaching, leading to shrinking leopard numbers.
Dr. Luke Hunter, President of Panthera, said, "By the end of this year, over 4000 faux leopard amambatha or traditional shoulder capes will have been shipped by DHL for our project. The Shembe have shown they are willing to embrace the use of our high-quality alternatives to real leopard skin that translates to over 2,000 leopards saved from poachers. We could only have made such major strides in conserving the magnificent leopard with the cooperation of the Shembe and the support of DHL."
DHL is active in supporting animal conservation projects all over Africa from the movement of rhinos to Tanzania and gorillas to Gabon, as well as supporting other local causes, including an orphaned elephant, Mr Brrr.
Shembe elder and legal advisor, Lizwi Ncwane, stated, "As a leader of the Shembe community, I have seen firsthand how receptive my community is to using these fake skins. Not only do they look and feel like real leopard skins, they also last longer. We're grateful that Panthera has worked with us in finding a solution that interweaves the conservation of leop
|Contact: Susie Weller|