17 May
Tristan Dickerson struggles with the powerful Shembe Church

The upcoming documentary To Skin a Cat addresses the alarming loss of leopard populations in southern Africa to illegal skin trade and poaching, and its close ties to the Shembe Church religion (over four million strong) which uses the hides in ceremonial rituals. Ironically, the Shembe Church reveres these beautiful animals, but believe they are so powerful that there’s no way they could disappear from this Earth. Filmmakers Colwyn Thomas and Greg Lomas follow leopard researcher Tristan Dickerson on his journey to save the leopards from this massive population decline, which Dickerson thinks can be accomplished via one powerful solution: fake fur. As the filmmakers write: “Dickerson believes that if he can introduce a high quality, realistic and cheap fake fur he will radically reduce the pressure on the country’s leopard populations. His mission is two pronged. 1. He must either create or source the perfect fur 2. He must convince the Shembe Church’s powerful leader to endorse his plan.” The dynamics of the struggle are dramatic, and often pit anti-poaching soldiers against their neighbors and countrymen who hunt these great cats — showing how these men battle to reconcile their lives between these opposing forces. It is not only an environmental struggle, but a human one as well. Watch the trailer below, and if you have the ability you can also help fund the production.

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