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A Leopard in Jeopardy: An Anthropological Survey of Practices and Beliefs which Threaten the Survival of the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi)

A Leopard in Jeopardy: An Anthropological Survey of Practices and Beliefs which Threaten the Survival of the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi)

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Published by Martin Walsh
Goldman, H. V. & Walsh, M. T. 1997. A Leopard in Jeopardy: An Anthropological Survey of Practices and Beliefs which Threaten the Survival of the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi), Zanzibar Forestry Technical Paper No.63 / report to Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Project, Commission for Natural Resources, Zanzibar.
Goldman, H. V. & Walsh, M. T. 1997. A Leopard in Jeopardy: An Anthropological Survey of Practices and Beliefs which Threaten the Survival of the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi), Zanzibar Forestry Technical Paper No.63 / report to Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Project, Commission for Natural Resources, Zanzibar.

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Published by: Martin Walsh on Jul 13, 2009
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10/19/2011

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Conservation section,Commission for Natural Resources,Maruhubi
A Leopard in Jeopardy:
 An anthropological survey of practices and beliefs which threatenthe survival of the Zanzibar leopard (
Panthera pardus adersi
)Dr. Helle V. GoldmanDr. Martin T. Walsh
 
1997Forestry Technical Paper No. 63
A study funded and supported by:Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Project,Commission for Natural Resources,Zanzibar, Tanzania
 
 
Preface
 The following report presents the findings of a study on the Zanzibar leopardundertaken in the first three weeks of July 1996. This work was contracted by the Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Project (JCBCP), a partnership between theGovernment of Zanzibar and CARE Tanzania, and funded by the Government ofAustria. Provisional results were proffered in a verbal presentation given in theForestry Sector (FS) of the Commission for Natural Resources (CNR) on Friday 19 July 1996, and in an end-of-fieldwork summary report (Walsh 1996) which wasproduced shortly afterward.The research team comprised four persons: Dr. Martin T. Walsh (consultantanthropologist and team leader), Dr. Helle V. Goldman (anthropologist, technicaladvisor JCBCP), Ali Ali Mwinyi (Wildlife Officer, FS), and Suleiman Iddi Hamadi(former Secretary and current Assistant Secretary of the
Wasasi wa Kitaifa
, orNational Hunters). The research undertaken by the team included the followingprincipal components; a) review of pertinent literature and documentation,including official files, both current and in the Zanzibar National Archives; b) formaland informal meetings with resource persons in Zanzibar town, includingrepresentatives of relevant government institutions; and c) interviews anddiscussions with individual Zanzibaris, including past and present hunters, and across-section of villagers an townspeople, both men and women. A large part of thestudy was devoted to semi-structured interviews with hunters in villagesthroughout Zanzibar. Fieldwork during the second week was facilitated by thedivision of the team into two pairs (MTW/SIH and HVG/AAM) who workedindependently in different locations.Fieldwork has continued, on a sporadic basis, by Goldman up to thecompletion of this paper (March 1997).The research team consisted of four people; this report was jointly written byWalsh and Goldman. The tireless assistance of Mwinyi and Hamadi are gratefullyacknowledged, and we also thank other staff at the CNR, JCBCP, and othergovernment organs who helped in various ways.
 
 iii
Executive summary
 
A Leopard in Jeopardy
1. The status of the Zanzibar leopard
 The Zanzibar leopard is a little known and possibly endemic subspecies found onUnguja Island, Zanzibar.
2. Current distribution
 The current status of the Zanzibar leopard is controversial. Some authorities claimthat it is extinct. However, on the basis of recent interviews with a wide array ofinformants and the examination of hunting records, this study suggests that thoughon the brink of extinction, a small population of leopards remains extant.
3. Legalities
 Laws imposed during the British colonial era offered leopards and other wildlifesome measure of protection. Though such legislation has never been explicitlycontravened during post-colonial decades, the government of Zanzibar hasencouraged the extermination of the Zanzibar leopard, because it is defined as"vermin" and because of its association with witchcraft.
4. Leopard-keeping and witchcraft
 It is a pervasive Zanzibari belief that some leopards are kept by witches, oftenorganised into "clubs," who magically control the leopards and use them to carry outevil errands. Motivations for leopard keeping by witches include:• to terrorise others, chiefly in order to gain "respect"• to get chickens, goats, and other foods• to guard wealth• to profit from stud fees and the sale of cubsThe beliefs that kept leopards are magically protected and that leopard-keepersretaliate against leopard hunters seems to have prevented some hunters from killingleopards; at the very least it has resulted in an under-reporting of leopard killings.Leopards are associated with some "sacred sites," another aspect of the role ofleopards in the local belief system.The authors argue that there is no real evidence for leopard keeping. We maintainthat leopards cannot be controlled through magical means.
5. Other reasons for killing leopards
Though there is some fear of retaliation by leopard keepers, Zanzibari hunters do killleopards, mainly to profit from the sale of skins and other leopard parts.

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