Raquel Benson is a Senior Contributor to TDA, a journalism student, humanist, and artist with issues of chronic imagination. She may be brash, but it stems from a deeper concern for the world around her.
Zulus Go Faux
Animal Rights – Leaving the rest of the world with no excuses, South Africa’s Zulus are nixing their authentic leopard-pelt garb for a cheaper, more humane – not to mention machine washable – alternative! On the behalf of shrinking wild cat population in Southern Africa, Tristan Dickerson, conservation biologist and zoologist has created faux adornments to preserve the Zulu culture while also keeping jungle cats off the endangered species list.
Dickerson is currently on the precipice of sealing a deal with the Nazareth Baptist church whose population carries more than five-and-a-half million people. The Church is a progressive one, blending Christian belief with historical Zulu traditions.
Dickerson says, “I have used digital photography and imaging to produce an exact synthetic replica of a leopard-skin stole with all the dots in the right place.” Although his cause is supported, he is still receiving some resistance from figures like South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma who encourage the Zulu tradition by sporting real fur – perhaps a little hardcore. Dickerson, unfazed by the reaction, stated, “On the same day as Prince Charles visited a black rhino conservation project, he did not seem to bat an eyelid in the face of all the poached leopard skin he saw at the king’s palace.”
Dickerson has also been working with Panthera’s Munyawana Leopard project, an organization committed to conserve the wild cat population. His work has been focused primarily on capturing and tracking the leopard population in Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Phinda Game Reserve. Dedicated to both the wild cat population as well as the Zulu tradition, Dickerson is hard at work to help both groups exist in harmony.
Read more at Newser.