Is the Zanzibar leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) extinct?

  • Helle V Goldman Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Project, Commission for Natural Resources, PO Box 3526, Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Martin T Walsh University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK


The Zanzibar leopard, Panthera pardus adersi (Pocock, 1932), is a little-known island endemic assumed by some authorities to be extinct. In 1996 a survey of local practices, beliefs and knowledge about the leopard was conducted on Unguja Island. Data were collected through interviews with Zanzibaris in villages across the island and from official documents (records of the National Hunters). In total 52 villagers, over half of whom were former or current part-time hunters, were interviewed. The interviews yielded compelling indications for an extant population of leopards: interviews included reports of leopard sightings for every year between 1990 to 1996. Combining this with National Hunters' records, which documented killed leopards in each year from 1985 to 1995, we conclude that the species was probably still to be found on the island as of 1996. However, a subsequent effort undertaken by other researchers and involving camera traps, audio playbacks and searches for leopard sign failed to yield physical evidence of leopards.

Journal of East African Natural History Vol. 91 (1&2) 2002: pp. 15-25

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1026-1613
print ISSN: 0012-8317