Only mounted specimen
Map of Tanzania with districts found in red
The Zanzibar leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) is an elusive subspecies of leopard endemic to Unguja Island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, which is governed by Tanzania. Increasing conflict between people and leopards in the 20th century led to their demonization and determined attempts to exterminate them. Efforts to develop a leopard conservation program in the mid-1990s were shelved when wildlife researchers concluded that there was little prospect for the animal's long-term survival.
The natives' descriptions of the Zanzibar leopard portray it as a pet kept by witches which used it to do harm. The Zanzibar leopard was believed to be responsible for the killing of some livestock, where it was sent by a witch in order to disrupt a village.
As the human population of Zanzibar grew, they began to encroach more on the Zanzibar leopard's habitat. The increase in conflict with the leopards caused extermination campaigns that soon became widespread after the Zanzibar Revolution. One such campaign was led by Kitanzi Mtaji Kitanzi who hunted the leopards, which he believed were vermin, and brought people who he suspected were witches to custody.  By the 1990's many in the scientific community declared the Zanzibar leopard to be extinct.
There have been multiple sightings since the Zanzibar leopard has been declared extinct. The deaths of some livestock has been attributed to the Zanzibar leopard. There is video footage of the Zanzibar Leopard in 2018 from a trail cam.
The Zanzibar leopard is believed to be a subspecies of leopard endemic to Unguja. The Zanzibar leopard has also been classified as a population of the larger African leopard subspecies (Panthera pardus pardus). However, due to the lack of genetic testing, its exact taxonomic position is unknown. The Zanzibar leopard is a descendant of the African leopard where it split off from the main population after the last ice age due to rising sea levels. The animal became smaller as a result of its new habitat.
The Zanzibar leopard is a large felid with a pale yellow coat that is covered in brown spots, notably without the typical rosettes. The Zanzibar leopard is smaller than its mainland counterpart probably due to insular dwarfism. It has a longer tail and a lower stance.
Distribution and Habitat
The Zanzibar leopard has only been found on the island of Zanzibar, and its range seems to be restricted to the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park due to human development. The Zanzibar leopard lives in the Northern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic ecoregion.
Behavior and Life History
The Zanzibar leopard most likely has similar behaviors to the African leopard.
The Zanzibar Leopard most likely has a similar diet to its mainland relative where it eats primates and ungulates.
Some people who live in Zanzibar claim to have seen a Zanzibar Leopard. Others claim that the Zanzibar leopard has killed some of their livestock. In 2015, there are footprints that are made from a wild cat. In 2018, a trail cam took footage of what is believed to be a Zanzibar Leopard. The video was later shown on the television show Extinct or Alive.
The Zanzibar Leopard was featured on the television show Extinct or Alive.