DHL has entered into an agreement with Panthera, the world's leading big-cat conservation organization, to ship faux leopard furs on a pro bono basis to Africa to help protect this endangered species whose fur is ceremonially worn by followers of the Shembe community in South Africa.
Leopard fur has become customary ceremonial attire worn by the over five-million strong members of the Shembe church, which is part of the vibrant cultural landscape of South Africa for over 100 years. Previously worn by Zulu royalty and chiefs, the leopard furs, or amambatha as they are referred to locally, form a ceremonial, religious dress that symbolizes beauty, power and prestige. These amambatha are now desired by a growing number of male Shembe followers. At a single Shembe gathering, over 1,000 leopard skins are worn by members. Although many skins are old and are passed down from generation to generation, many new ones are a result of poaching, leading to shrinking leopard numbers.