Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Zulu church embraces faux fur to protect leopards  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 19/02/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Carrying Zulu warrior shields and draped in leopard skins, the men of South Africa's Shembe Church move hypnotically as they go through the steps of a traditional religious ritual.But the striking spotted pelts around the dancers' chests are slowly being swapped for synthetic faux fur -- thanks to a pact between conservationists and church leaders.Leopard skins are a symbol of pride and royalty in the Shembe religion, which was founded a century ago in the country's eastern KwaZulu-Natal region with roots in Christianity and Zulu customs.However, with the big cat populations threatened by loss of habitat and poaching, Shembe leaders have backed a cheaper and predator-friendly alternative that still upholds tradition."The leopard skin has got a significance because it shows power," said Lizwi Ncwane, spokesman for the church officially known as the Nazareth Baptist Church."For the past four months now, we have been using fake skins because we are trying to bring awareness among our people," he told AFP.

Boasting more than five million members, tens of thousands of faithful flock to a special service every January where older men move to the rhythmic sound of drumbeats and low trumpets."That is the way we worship God, we worship through prayers as well as dances," said Ncwane.But participants must wear the colourful ceremonial dress, which includes a loin cloth of monkey tails, a leopard skin belt, elaborate headgear with ostrich feathers and above all a cape of leopard skin slung across their naked chests."It represents being the king," explained mineworker Sphiwe Cele, who says he paid 4,500 rand (412) for his legally-hunted authentic leopard skin -- a fortune for the average South African."Of course we are not the king of the Zulu, but Shembe said we are the kings of our homes, so we must wear this today when we go to the traditional gathering," he added.In a country where leopard hunting permits are only affordable for the very rich or foreign tourists, conservation groups dispute that the trophies worn at Shembe gatherings are legal.- 'Totally illegal' -

"This is the biggest display of illegal wildlife contraband on earth," said Guy Balme, Africa leopard programme director with US-based conservation group Panthera."Everything you see here is totally illegal," he said at one of the dances as music rang out in the background.Most of the skins come from poachers in South Africa and neighbouring Mozambique, Zimbabwe and nearby Malawi, he said.Listed as "near threatened" by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, leopards number between 5,000 and 7,000 in South Africa today, according to conservation group Landmarks Foundation director Bool Smuts."They certainly are on a distinct decline," he said, cautioning that no official figures exist.

To stem poaching, Panthera in recent years has worked to develop authentic-looking fake leopard skins and to convince the Shembe to use them.Some less well-off dancers were already wearing a form of fake fur with cow and impala skins painted with leopard spots, said leopard programme coordinator Tristan Dickerson."So I thought, 'well if I came up with a realistic version, maybe we can introduce it to the church'," said Dickerson.The fabric is produced in China, then shipped to Durban where it is sewn into the final product."It has taken four years to get to the point where we are now, where they are accepting the furs and they are using them," said Dickerson.Panthera aims to distribute 6,000 mantles by mid-2014 -- free for now -- and has already given out a third of that.About 10 percent of members' furs are now estimated to be fake, since the church threw its weight behind the initiative.Donning his own synthetic leopard fur, spokesman Ncwane suggests that up to 70 percent of dancers will have given up real skins within two years.Later, loin cloths, bracelets and belts will follow, costing much less than the full natural fur regalia which costs up to 15,000 rand."It has become a kind of a trend," said Panthera volunteer John Smith. "At the beginning, some were very rude and told me they didn't need those needless blankets. It was then endorsed by the church."

 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Jul 2 2015 - OIC condemns terrorist attacks in SinaiEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, has condemned the terrorist attacks on military checkpoints in Northern Sinai, Egypt, on Wednesday, which resulted ...

 Jul 2 2015 - Ajman Ruler, Crown Prince receive more Ramadan greetingsEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) H.H. Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, last night received Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, and ...

 Jul 2 2015 - UAE- Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing hosts English-Language lecture on SundayEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The ongoing lecture series hosted as part of the activities of the 14th Dubai Ramadan Forum, organised by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, DTCM, ...

 Jul 2 2015 - UAE Embassy in Senegal distributes 800 food packagesEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The UAE Embassy in Senegal has overseen the process of distributing 800 food packages to needy families in Gambia, provided by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan ...

 Jul 2 2015 - Dubai launches "Health of the Fasting" campaign as part of Ramadan ForumEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) As part of the activities of the 14th Dubai Ramadan Forum, Dubai yesterday launched the 'Health of the Fasting' awareness programme, providing free medical ...

 Jul 2 2015 - President, VP, Mohamed bin Zayed send greetings to Governor-General of CanadaEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a congratulatory cable to David Johnston, Governor-General of Canada, on the occasion of his ...

 Jul 2 2015 - UAE Embassy oversees implementation of Iftar Project in Thailand and CambodiaEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The UAE Embassy in Thailand has overseen the implementation of the Iftar project in Thailand and Cambodia. The Iftar project is implemented by the Khalifa bin ...

 Jul 2 2015 - UAE- NEC begins media accreditation process for coverage of FNC 2015 ElectionsEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) The National Election Committee has opened the accreditation process for media representatives who will be covering the Federal National Council, FNC, Elections ...

 Jul 2 2015 - DEWA introduces Al Namoos service for consultants and contractors to connect up to 150KW within 10 daysEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA, has launched its Al Namoos, an Emirati word that describes a race winner, service. This latest initiative, ...

 Jul 2 2015 - Dubai Silicon Oasis and SAP Training and Development Institute join hands to support tech start-upsEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, DSOA, the regulatory body for Dubai Silicon Oasis, DSO, the integrated free zone technology park, yesterday signed a sponsorship ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help