Panthera South Africa

Wild Cat Species

— Lion

— Leopard

— Cheetah

— African Wildcat

— Black-Footed Cat

— Serval

— Caracal

Priority Landscapes

— Sabi Sands

— KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the North West provinces

The Sabi Sands protected area, bordering the Kruger National Park, is a long-term leopard research site and one of Panthera’s flagship projects. The knowledge generated from this work is critical to informing local wildlife management and broader conservation policy across the leopard range. This priority site is also closely linked to the Southern African Leopard Monitoring Program which focuses on promoting viable leopard populations by informing leopard management and increasing resources for leopard conservation. Priority sites within this program are located in South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West Provinces), Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Panthera’s Counter Wildlife Crime (CWC) program provides support for on-the-ground wildlife protection efforts through the provision of technical expertise and mentoring related to site security, counter wildlife trafficking, crime analytics and demand reduction. The CWC program aims to promote best practice across disciplines and assists Panthera staff and partner organizations to develop a deep understanding of wildlife problems to enable the implementation of tailored interventions, such as our innovative Furs for Life demand reduction program. 

Furs for Life was established in 2013 in partnership with the Nazareth Baptist Church eBuhleni, commonly known as the Shembe Church, to address the unsustainable demand for leopard skins in ceremonial attire. Working with digital designers, Panthera created high-quality and affordable synthetic leopard fur capes, known as amambatha, as alternatives to authentic skins. Following the successful implementation of Furs for Life, Panthera and the Barotse Royal Establishment of the Lozi people joined forces to launch Saving Spots — a similar demand reduction initiative in western Zambia that seeks to protect declining wild cat populations by replacing authentic skins with synthetic leopard, serval and lion furs known as Heritage Furs. 

Thanks to the support of Shembe leaders, synthetic furs are increasingly accepted as viable alternatives to authentic leopard furs. Panthera’s research indicates that the project has reduced demand for authentic skins significantly and their use by 50%, potentially preventing hundreds of leopard deaths each year. To date, 1,200 Heritage Fur garments have been provided to the Barotse Royal Establishment. The public announcement by the Barotse Royal Establishment that the synthetic garments would replace authentic skins at future traditional ceremonies was a profound development for conservation in Zambia, and will significantly reduce demand for wild cat skins.

 

Partners

  • South African National Bioinformatics Institute

  • Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
  • Wildlife ACT 
  • The Nazareth Baptist Church eBuhleni
Panthera staff members viewing lions in South Africa
©Panthera

Contact 

Panthera South Africa
Steenberg House, Suite 7
Silverwood Cl
Steenberg Office Park
Cape Town
 

Dr. Kristine Maciejewski
Southern and East Africa Director
kmaciejewski@panthera.org

Staff

Guy Balme, Ph.D.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONSERVATION SCIENCE

Gareth Mann, Ph.D.

DIRECTOR, LEOPARD PROGRAM

Rebecca Garbett, Ph.D.

Southern African Leopard Monitoring Coordinator

Nikki Le Roex, Ph.D.

Sabi Sands Leopard Project Coordinator

Gareth Whittington-Jones

Counter Wildlife Crime Regional Coordinator

Jeff Dunnink

Furs for Life Project Coordinator