The Zanzibar Leopard – anthropology, cryptozoology and conservation in Zanzibar
For those with a penchant for East African wildlife of the interesting and distinct kind, i.e. NOT the ‘Big 5′ – this brand new site is an occasional blog by Helle Goldman and my friend from Cambridge in the UK, Martin Walsh in which they post news, views and information about the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) and other wildlife in the Zanzibar archipelago.
As described at Helle & Martin’s blogsite “The Zanzibar Leopard, Panthera pardus adersi, is an elusive and possibly extinct subspecies endemic to Unguja (Zanzibar) Island. It has presumably been evolving in isolation from other leopards since at least the end of the last Ice Age, when Unguja was separated from the Tanzanian mainland by rising sea levels. The “founder effect” (genetic characteristics of the marooned population) and/or adaptation to local island conditions produced a smaller leopard than its continental relatives and one which “changed its spots”, or rather saw its more numerous rosettes partially disintegrate into spots (Pakenham, 1984; Kingdon, 1989).”
“Not much is known about the biology of the Zanzibar Leopard. Visitors to the natural history section of the Zanzibar Museum will be familiar with the stuffed and rather faded specimen kept in a display case there together with an old black and white photograph of a leopard trap. Apart from scraps of pelt furtively kept by hunters, to date we have only located five other skins: three in the Natural History Museum in London and two in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Of these only the type specimen in London and the two Harvard skins are accompanied by their skulls.”