Nope, this isn’t another one of PETA’s insane protests over animal rights (the organization just protested the use of fictional Super Mario putting on a Tanooki suit, seriously)…it’s a legitimate move to help protect endangered leopards in South Africa, and big cats in general.
Big cat populations are dwindling in the country, and conservation biologist/leading leopard expert Tristan Dickerson wants the Zulus tribe to do something about it. Dickerson has meticulously created a fake version of leopard skin that he claims is just as good as the real thing, being an exact synthetic replica of the cat’s coat with all spots in the right places.
If you’re wondering why leopard skin is so important to the Zulu, it’s because the skin is worn only by the royal family, generals, and chiefs to define social status and class. An average man “may wear a little leopard skin on his wedding” day, however. While many Zulu leaders say they cannot give up leopard print entirely, they’re willing to embrace the faux fur policy.
Photo by MacJewell/Flickr
Now Dickerson is finalizing a deal with the 5.6-million Nazareth Baptist Church members, a religion which blends Christian and Zulu traditions.
Unfortunately, Dickerson has a lot of work to do if he wants to change how the entire country wears furs. Even President Jacob Zuma has a palace filled with poached leopard skin.