Africa

Wild leopards threatened by religious tradition in Africa

Updated 10:33 PM ET, Sun September 16, 2012
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For the Shembe, leopards are seen as a symbol of pride, beauty and wealth. Courtesy of Tristan Dickerson for Panthera
At Shembe church gatherings, trade in skins is done openly with no law enforcement. Courtesy of Tristan Dickerson for Panthera
Poachers are increasingly killing leopards to profit from their use in traditional medicine and ceremonial dress. Courtesy of Tristan Dickerson for Panthera
The skins are viewed as essential attire for church elders who wear them around their necks during traditional ceremonies. Courtesy of Tristan Dickerson for Panthera
Followers of Shembe have not been satisfied with fake furs as alternatives to leopard skins. Courtesy of Tristan Dickerson for Panthera
Tristan Dickerson has traveled to China to find fake furs that would be acceptable to the Shembe. Courtesy of Greg Lomas