This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Martin T. Walsh1 and Helle V. Goldman2
he Zanzibar leopard Panthera pardus adersi was once widespread on the Indian Ocean island of Unguja (Zanzibar, Tanzania), but most authorities now consider it to be extinct, or very nearly so (Anonymous 1997, Goldman & Walsh 2002). This little-known endemic has never been studied in the wild, and our knowledge of it therefore rests largely on historical and ethnographic reports (Goldman & Walsh 1997, Walsh & Goldman 2007) and the physical evidence of museum specimens. Despite a history of vigorous persecution, material from Zanzibar leopards is almost as elusive as proof of their survival into the present. Recognizing its potential importance for genetic and other research, we have compiled data on known specimens and the history of their collection, including information on material that has been seen or reported outside of museums. The following notes summarize our findings to date. Museum specimens The standard work on the mammals of Zanzibar (Pakenham 1984) mentions only four museum specimens. In the course of investigating these, however, we were shown another two, bringing the total number to six. They are listed below by museum and date of accession, together with our current understanding of their provenance: The Natural History Museum (formerly British Museum), London 1. Skin and skull of a young adult male [BM 22.214.171.124]. This came from the vicinity of Chwaka on the east coast of Unguja, and was sent to the museum in 1919 by Dr. William Mansfield Aders, who held the post of Economic Biologist in the Zanzibar Protectorate. It was subsequently described by Pocock (1932) as the type of P. p. adersi. His photograph of the skin was also reproduced in a paper by Dobroruka (1965), disputing the identification of
Fig. 1. Zanzibar leopard skins at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology: MCZ 40953 (left) and MCZ 36709 right (Photo J. WintherHansen).
the subspecies as an island endemic. 2. Skin of an unsexed animal [BM 126.96.36.199]. This was presented to the museum in early 1929 by John Henry Vaughan, who was an administrative officer in Zanzibar and sent many bird specimens to the British Museum. Correspondence between Vaughan and Reginald Pocock later in 1929 indicates that the latter had already decided to refer this and Aders’s specimen to a new subspecies. Both specimens are also discussed by Pakenham (1984) but there are no photographs of Vaughan’s skin in the literature. 3. Skin of an unsexed animal, probably immature [BM (NH) 84.2100]. This was donated to the museum by A. D. Ingrams in 1984, too late to be included in Pakenham’s study, which appeared in the same year. Douglas Ingrams served as an Agricultural Officer in Zanzibar in 1925-27, but the specimen label indicates that it was collected by his brother, William Harold Ingrams (1897-1973), who held a series of administrative posts in the
Protectorate between 1919 and 1933, and referred to the Zanzibar leopard in his books (1931, 1942). There are no published descriptions or photographs of this headless and tailless skin. Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 4. Skin and skull of a female [MCZ 36709] (Fig. 1). This specimen originated in Bungi, south-east of Zanzibar town. It was collected in 1937 by Ailsa Nicol Smith, Curator of the Zanzibar Museum (1935-42), and given to Dr. Thomas Barbour, the Director of the Harvard Museum, where it was registered on 30 March 1938. Pakenham seems to have been unaware of this specimen, and there are no descriptions of it in the literature. A colour photograph of the skin (alongside MCZ 40953, which is on the left) is reproduced in Walsh & Goldman (2007). 5. Skin and skull of a female [MCZ 40953] (Fig. 1). This leopard was trapped “by natives” and shot at Fumba, south of Zanzibar town. R. H. W. Autumn 2008
Pakenham’s unpublished natural history notebooks (1929–56) record that this specimen was sent by the Zanzibar District Commissioner to the Curator of the Zanzibar Museum, Ailsa Nicol Smith, who then forwarded it to him on 11 July 1939. Pakenham sent the specimen to Harvard, where it was registered on 22 June 1940. Richard Hercules Wingfield Pakenham joined the administrative service in Zanzibar in 1929 and was Senior Commissioner when he retired in 1956, after which he continued to research and publish on Zanzibar’s wildlife. Comparison of the picture of this leopard skin in Pakenham (1984) with that in Walsh & Goldman (2007) indicates that it has deteriorated considerably since it was first photographed. Zanzibar Museum (formerly also Peace Memorial Museum), Zanzibar 6. Much-faded mounted skin, sex unknown, in a display case with dried grasses and an unattributed photograph of a leopard trap [Z 1209] (Fig. 2). The original label (now replaced) stated that this leopard was shot at Kisakasaka, south of Zanzibar town, by the Hon. W. Grazebrook, M.C., and was presented by him to the museum together with the case. William Grazebrook was a businessman and long-term resident of Zanzibar who served on the Legislative Council in 1926-31. There is a colour photograph of this specimen in Walsh & Goldman (2007). We have issued requests relating to the Zanzibar leopard in NatSCA News (the newsletter of The Natural Sciences Collections Association) and other publications, but have not located any museum specimens other than the six listed above. Other material All of the museum specimens that we have identified were collected in the first half of the 20th century, during the British colonial period. We know that significant numbers of leopards were killed in the second half of the century, many of them in a government-sanctioned campaign of leopard extermination that began after the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 (Walsh & Goldman 2007). What
Fig. 2. Mounted Zanzibar leopard in the Zanzibar Museum (Z 1209) (Photo J. Winther-Hansen).
happened to all of the skins? In the 1970s at least some of them were delivered to the state shoe factory, which processed hides and skins (Halsted 1979), but their ultimate destination is obscure. Some pieces of skin and other leopard body parts believed to have magico-medicinal properties must have remained in Zanzibar (see below). Local leopard skins that found their way onto the international market were presumably mixed up with others from East Africa and the Horn. It is possible that complete skins found their way into private collections, but we have no evidence for this at present. When we began our research on the Zanzibar leopard in the mid-1990s we occasionally heard of skins being offered for sale by local hunters, and of some being taken to the African mainland or the Persian Gulf (Marshall 1994, Selkow 1995, Goldman & Walsh 1997, Palmer 2005). In his dissertation for the College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka, Khamis A. Khamis (1995) claimed that he had photographed the skin and claws of a Zanzibar leopard killed (at an unspecified location) in September 1993, having paid for permission to do so. At least eleven leopards are reported to have been killed in Zanzibar in 1993 (Goldman & Walsh 2002), and it is not possible using available records to determine which if any of these Khamis was referring to. We also do not know the current whereabouts of his photograph.
The only leopard skin that we have seen ourselves outside of a museum are two rectangular pieces in the possession of the former Secretary of the Zanzibar National Hunters (Wasasi wa Kitaifa), who assisted us in our research in July 1996. These two fragments were said to have been taken from a leopard that was killed by hunters at Muyuni, on the south-west coast of Unguja, in 1986. Photographs of the two pieces that appeared in our original report (Goldman & Walsh 1997) were later lost in the offices of the Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Project (JCBCP), but pictures of one of the pieces (Fig. 3) survived and have been used in subsequent publications (the pdf version of the report and Walsh & Goldman 2007). A number of Zanzibari hunters claim to be able to identify leopard faeces, but efforts to collect and preserve specimens for later analysis have so far
Fig. 3. Fragment of Zanzibar leopard skin in the possession of the former Secretary of the Zanzibar National Hunters, 1996 (Photo H. V. Goldman).
CAT News 49
proved unsuccessful. On 12 March 1997 HVG collected dessicated scat, said to be leopard, in the vicinity of Hazungukwa cave in Kitogani, south-east of Jozani Forest. However, this specimen was also lost in JCBCP offices before it could be properly analyzed. A similar fate befell a relatively fresh specimen that was collected by forestry staff on 19 August 2001 at the site of a reputed leopard kill (or kills) at Wangwani within the boundaries of what is now Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park. A search for this specimen at Forestry headquarters in Zanzibar town, undertaken for MTW on 5 April 2002, proved fruitless, and it was presumed that a cleaner or other staff member had thrown it away. It was suggested that these losses might not have been accidental, but a consequence of the fear that many Zanzibaris have of the leopard and anything associated with it. The Zanzibar leopard is widely believed to be used for nefarious purposes by witches, and unprotected contact with leopards and leopard parts is thought to cause serious illness, one of the symptoms of which is the vomiting or excretion of fur (Goldman & Walsh 1997). But hunters and others who have taken out magical insurance against this kind of harm are more relaxed about handling leopard products, which have their own magical and medicinal uses. An American student, Scott Marshall (1994), was shown the claws of a leopard said to have been killed three years earlier; and in September 1994 the adventurer Lajos Jozsa (a.k.a. Louis Palmer) photographed leopard claws in the possession of a man in a village near Jozani (pers. comm. 2005, Palmer 2005). It may still be possible to obtain fragments of leopard skin and other material of local provenance in Zanzibar, if not complete specimens. Leopard products are no longer sold openly in the traditional herbalists’ shops in Zanzibar town, though they are alleged to be available in some of them ‘under the counter’. Our own experience suggests that Zanzibar leopard parts might be more readily obtained from hunters and herbalists in rural Unguja, though the possibility of securing fresh or near-contemporary material is surely diminishing, if it has not disappeared altogether. Concluding remarks 6
The Zanzibar leopard was one of the 27 subspecies of leopard recognized by Pocock (1932) on the basis of coat pattern, morphology and geography. Phylogenetic analysis (Uphyrkina et al. 2001) has suggested the reduction of these classical trinomial subspecies to a minimum of nine discrete populations, one of which (P. p. pardus) covers the whole of Africa. Material from the Zanzibar leopard was not included in this study and the genetic consequences and classificatory implications of its geographic isolation on Unguja island have yet to be determined using current methods. If presumptions of the Zanzibar leopard’s extinction are true, museum specimens and other material that can still be retrieved may be all that we have for reconstructing its evolutionary history and assessing the full significance of its loss.
Acknowledgements A large number of people have contributed to the research on which this article is based. We are especially grateful to Daphne Hills, James Hatton and Alison Harding at the Natural History Museum in London and Tring; Judith Chupasko and Mark Omura at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ms. Maneno Ibrahim in the Zanzibar Museum; Bakari S. Asseid, Thabit S. Masoud, Yussuf Haji Kombo, Sheha Idrissa Hamdan, and Ali Ali Mwinyi in the Commission for Natural Resources, Zanzibar; and, for help of different kinds, Suleiman Iddi Hamadi, Lajos Jozsa/Louis Palmer, Peter Luptak, Jill Pakenham, John Pakenham, and Velizar Simeonovski. References Anonymous. 1997. No sign of Zanzibar leopard. Cat News 27, 12. Dobroruka L. J. 1964. Zur Verbreitung des “Sansibar-Leoparden”, Panthera pardus adersi Pocock, 1932. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 30, 144-146. Goldman H. V. and 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 63, Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Project, Commission for Natural Resources, Zanzibar. 59 pp. Goldman H. V. and Walsh M. T. 2002. Is the Zanzibar leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) extinct? Journal of East African Natural History 91 (1/2), 15-25. Halsted D. C. 1979. Birds and larger mam-
mals of Zanzibar. EANHS [East Africa Natural History Society] Bulletin (March-April), 41-45. Ingrams W. H. 1931. Zanzibar: Its History and its People. Frank Cass and Co., London. Ingrams W. H. 1942. Arabia and the Isles. John Murray, London. Khamis K. A. 1995. Report on the Status of Zanzibar Leopards from 15th Dec. 1994 to June 1995 in Different Times at Zanzibar. Unpublished certificate student’s dissertation, College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, Tanzania. 9 pp. Marshall S. 1994. The Status of the Zanzibar Leopard. Unpublished paper, School for International Training, Tanzania, and Commission for Natural Resources, Zanzibar. 17 pp. Pakenham R. H. W. 1929-56. [Natural History Notebooks]. Manuscript Collection of Richard Hercules Wingfield Pakenham (1906-1993), The Natural History Museum (London), Tring. Pakenham R. H. W. 1984. The Mammals of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands. Unpublished, Harpenden. 81 pp. Palmer L. 2005. Verrückt nach dieser Welt: Abenteur zwischen Himmel und Erde. Delius Klasing Verlag, Bielefeld. Pocock R. I. 1932. The leopards of Africa. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London II, 543-591. Selkow B. 1995. A Survey of Villager Perceptions of the Zanzibar Leopard. Unpublished paper, School for International Training, Tanzania, and Commission for Natural Resources, Zanzibar. 28 pp. Uphyrkina O., Johnson W. E., Quigley H., Miquelle D., Marker L., Bush M. and O’Brien S. J. 2001. Phylogenetics, genome diversity and origin of modern leopard, Panthera pardus. Molecular Ecology 10, 2617-2633. Walsh M. T. and Goldman H. V. 2007. Killing the king: the demonization and extermination of the Zanzibar leopard / Tuer le roi: la diabolisation et l’extermination du leopard de Zanzibar. In Le symbolisme des animaux: L‘animal, clef de voûte de la relation entre l‘homme et la nature? / Animal symbolism: Animals, keystone in the relationship between man and nature? Dounias, E., Motte-Florac, É. and Dunham, M. (Eds.). Éditions de l’IRD, Paris. pp. 1133-1182.
Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF, United Kingdom <email@example.com> Norwegian Polar Institute, Polar Environmental Centre, NO-9296, Tromsø, Norway