Stop Killing Leopards for Religious Ceremony

  • By: Animal Advocates
  • Target: President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, John M. Sellar, Chief of Enforcement Support in the CITES Secretariat, International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

A religion in southern Africa is threatening to push the leopard to the brink of extinction. A mixture of Christianity and Zulu culture, the Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe, view leopard skins worn around the neck as essential attire for traditional cerimonies.

The Shembe is one of the biggest traditional religious groups in South Africa with around 5 million members, and conservationist fear that as the church grows, leopards will be pushed to the brink of extinction.

The species is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, and the sale or possession of its parts is illegal in South Africa. The leopard is also listed as "near threatened" by the International Union Conservation of Nature- and the sale or possession of its parts is illegal in South Africa.

Legally, 150 leopards are targeted by trophy hunters each year. But there are 1000's of leopard skins at church gatherings. Leopards are being poached and poisoned and traded openly at church gathering with no law enforcement.

We ask the President of South Africa to enourage the church to use fake fur- (an option which has already been offered) to replace leopard skins for religious ceremonies.

SOURCE: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/16/world/africa/leopards-shembe-south-africa/index.html

President of South Africa
President Jacob Zuma
Union Buildings
Private Bag X1000,
Pretoria,
0001
Telephone: +27 (0)12 300 5200
Fax: +27 (0)12 323 8246
Email: presidentrsa@po.gov.za

Mr. John Macfarlane Sellar
Chief of Enforcement
CITES Secretariat
Maison Internationale de l’Environnement
Chatelaine-Geneva, Switzerland 1219
Tel: +41-229178293
E-mail: john.sellar@cites.org

A religion in southern Africa is threatening to push the leopard to the brink of extinction. A mixture of Christianity and Zulu culture, the Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe, view leopard skins as essential attire for church elders who wear them around their necks during traditional ceremonies.





The Shembe is one of the biggest traditional religious groups in South Africa with around 5 million members, and conservationist fear that as the church grow, leopards will be pushed to the brink of extinction.





The species is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, and the sale or possession of its parts is illegal in South Africa. The leopard is also listed as "near threatened" by the International Union Conservation of Nature- and the sale or possession of its parts is illegal in South Africa.





Legally, 150 leopards are targeted by trophy hunters each year. But there are 1000's of leopard skins at church gatherings. Leopards are being poached and poisoned and traded openly at church gathering with no law enforcement.





We ask the President of South Africa to enourage the church to use fake fur- (an option which has already been offered) to replace leopard skins for religious ceremonies.

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