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Procession at Shembe ceremony | by Panthera Cats
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Procession at Shembe ceremony

Leopard skins are in increasing demand among members of South Africa's Shembe Baptist Church, which has adopted the Zulu practice of wearing spotted cat fur (mainly leopard) during religious celebrations. Although trade in leopard skins is illegal in South Africa, the practice is widespread and expanding among the Shembe's estimated 5 million members. In order to reduce demand for real leopard skins, Tristan Dickerson, Panthera's Leopard Program Coordinator, has spent the past year working with digital designers and clothing companies to create a high-quality and affordable faux leopard skin which he will present at a future Shembe gathering.


This photo was taken by Tristan at a Shembe gathering that he visited to investigate the use of real and fake leopard skins.


Watch the CNN Inside Africa videos featuring Tristan and the Munyawana Project at


Learn more about the project at


Learn more about Tristan at

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Taken on July 25, 2010