Zanzibar Leopard – Taxonomy, History, Conservation and More

Zanzibar Leopard – Taxonomy, History, Conservation and More

Zanzibar Leopard Facts

Unguja Island in Tanzania’s Zanzibar archipelago is home to a subspecies of the African leopard known as the Zanzibar leopard or Panthera pardus pardus. The Zanzibar leopard cause of extinction is owed to hunting by locals and habitat destruction. Is the Zanzibar leopard extinct? In terms of the Zanzibar leopard size, the leopard was the island’s most ferocious predator. As the human-leopard conflict intensified throughout the twentieth century, the leopard was demonized, and eradication initiatives were launched. The leopardo de Zanzibar was judged by wildlife researchers in the mid-1990s (Zanzibar leopard year of extinction) that the leopard population had little chance of long-term survival; thus, efforts to develop a conservation program for the leopard species were put on hold. Camera-trapped footage of a leopard in 2018 revived hope for the Zanzibar leopard not extinct population’s survival, although some researchers remain incredulous.

Reginald Innes Pocock
Reginald Innes Pocock


In 1932, Reginald Innes Pocock proposed the Zanzibar leopard scientific name Panthera pardus adersi. Molecular genetic testing of the leopard’s tissue led to its reclassification as the African leopard (P. p. Pardus). However, P. p. adersi is still used by some authors to describe the leopardo de Zanzibar.

A Chronicle of the Evolution of the Zanzibar Leopard

It is widely thought that the léopard de Zanzibar denizen had evolved in isolation since the demise of the glacial epoch when the island disowned Tanzania by a stir in sea levels. Some of the leopard’s rosettes disintegrated into spots due to the founder effect and adaptation to the local environment. The genetic differentiation between this leopard’s population and those currently treated as genuine subspecies, all found outside of Africa, is much less despite the apparent differences between the leopard’s population and mainland populations. As a result, all African leopard populations, including the Zanzibar leopard, are considered part of a single subspecies.

Ecology and Social Dynamics

How many Zanzibar leopards are left? There is a lack of knowledge on the Zanzibar leopard habitat and habits. Until the early 1980s, there had never been a live leopard seen in the wild. Most zoologists believe that the leopard is lost or nearing extinction. 

The Natural History Museum in London holds a type sample of P. p. adersi. In contrast, the Zanzibar Museum has a faded model of the Zanzibar leopard. To the dismay of the islanders, leopards were still being described by hunters in Zanzibar as recently as the mid-1990s.

The Natural History Museum in London
The Natural History Museum in London

Zanzibar Leopard Conservation

How Did the Zanzibar Leopard Become Extinct?

In rural Zanzibar, the concept that witches keep leopards and send them out to kill or punish villagers dominates depictions of the Zanzibar leopard and its habits. This belief system goes into great detail on the Zanzibar leopard witches creation and training of leopards to serve their evil purposes. They are used by local farmers to explain the leopard’s predation and, more generally, their being “out of place” near acreage and settlements.

Why did the Zanzibar leopard go extinct? An increase in population and agricultural expansion in the twentieth century impacted leopard habitat and prey base. The conflict between humans and leopards escalated, leading to a series of steps to rid the area of the feline menace. When did the Zanzibar leopard go extinct? Following the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution, a witchfinder-led anti-witchcraft and leopard-killing campaign swept the entire island. It began locally. The long-term effects of the effort and the classification of the Zanzibar leopard as “vermin” made the Zanzibar leopard extinct. Despite this, rumors of Zanzibar leopard sightings persist, leading some islanders to believe that the leopard is still roaming the area. The Zanzibar leopard population was assumed to be lost by the mid-1990s. In 1997 and 2001, Zanzibar leopard rediscovered rumors, but no samples were ever found.

The CARE-funded Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Project established a leopard conservation program in 1997. Still, it was abandoned due to a lack of evidence for the leopardo Zanzibar. Some people in Zanzibar have suggested contacting people who claim to possess leopards to ask if they would be willing to show their animals to paying tourists. Tourists and researchers are periodically taken on this bid in exchange for money; however, none of these “kept leopard chases” have resulted in a fortunate spy of the real Zanzibar leopard.

Researchers have noticed that these differing views on the Zanzibar leopard still alive status and conservation possibilities provide a conundrum.

Zanzibar Leopard Found

On Unguja Island in 2018, a camera trap set up during the filming of Extinct or Alive Zanzibar Leopard filmed a leopard. In light of the Zanzibar leopard extinct or alive video’s ambiguous origins and that only a few reputable media sites have reported on it, some authorities are unconvinced. To his credit, its creator (Forrest Galante Zanzibar leopard) has stood by the validity of his claim. While it is evident that the extinct or alive Zanzibar leopard full episode footage depicts a leopard, the specific pattern of rosettes is still unknown, increasing the idea that it is a feral African leopard smuggled to Zanzibar. The only way to be sure that this Zanzibar leopard footage is legitimate is to look for Zanzibar Leopard DNA evidence of whether it was really the Zanzibar leopard forest galante.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What did the Zanzibar leopard eat?

The Zanzibar leopard is a top predator on the island, and the Zanzibar leopard diet consists mostly of small mammals and reptiles. These leopards are also known to occasionally eat birds and fish.

  • Where did the Zanzibar leopard live?

The Zanzibar leopard was a Panthera pardus subspecies that was native to the Zanzibar archipelago off the coast of East Africa. The leopardo de Zanzibar vivo in forests, mangroves, and scrublands on the islands of Unguja and Pemba. The leopard was also known to sighted in urban areas, and was even known to kill goats.

  • Is Zanzibar leopard extinct?

The leopard was declared extinct in 2015, after the last known individual died in captivity.

  • Is the Zanzibar leopard alive?

Although it was officially declared extinct in 2015, the Zanzibar leopard may have persisted in the wild until as recently as 2018. A camera trap photo took Zanzibar leopard pictures on the island of Unguja in 2018 showed what is believed to be a Zanzibar leopard sighting, although it could not be confirmed.

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