THE GHOST LEOPARD OF ZANZIBAR
(60 min HD)
The Ghost Leopard of Zanzibar is a cryptozoological adventure story about one man’s search and attempt to save a species whose fascinating mythology and long association with witchcraft has led to its almost complete eradication.
A documentary crew follow an anthropologist and his team on the expedition of a life time - to search for the allegedly extinct and never-before photographed Zanzibar Leopard. In the 20th century this elusive predator was the victim of a sustained campaign of extermination by islanders who feared its reputation for man-eating and association with witchcraft and sorcery. If the team can obtain photographic proof that the Zanzibar Leopard still lives they may be able to help save it from extinction.
The story of the Zanzibar Leopard is a microcosm for the tragedy of the imminent extinction of big cats around the world. It is a story of shrinking habitats and the clash between man and beast. It is the story of a species that has been demonized and all but doomed to become a legend.
The Zanzibar Leopard evolved on this Indian Ocean island in isolation from the rest of Africa, making it an entirely unique sub-species. The islanders believe that the leopards are secretly kept as pets by local sorcerers and used by them to harass their neighbours. Suspected leopard-keepers are both greatly feared and respected on the island. Village children and livestock have been dragged off and mauled in broad daylight by these otherwise nocturnal felids. Though there have been recent sightings and reports of attacks on livestock and other wildlife, no convincing physical proof of a leopard has been found on the island in more than a decade.
After the bloody Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, a horrific island-wide leopard eradication and witch-finding campaign took place from which the species has never recovered. Though there are no official reports of leopards being killed since 1995, it is widely believed that there are still leopard-keepers working in remote areas of the island.
Martin Walsh is an anthropologist from Cambridge University who has lived and worked in Zanzibar for many years, is a fluent speaker of Swahili and expert in local ethnozoology. He believes that conservationists have been too quick to declare the extinction of the Zanzibar Leopard and is determined to prove that it still exists. Film-makers Adam and Andrew Gray follow Dr. Walsh’s journey from Cambridge into the forests and thickets of Zanzibar - the hunting ground of the leopard and one the world’s most notorious hot-beds of sorcery and witchcraft. To help in this search Walsh enlists the skills of fellow researcher and camera-trap expert Helle Goldman and a team of traditional Zanzibari hunters.
This uniquely equipped team follows a trail of clues through the most remote corners of Zanzibar in an attempt to find and photograph the mysterious and deadly big cat. The Ghost Leopard of Zanzibar is an epic journey into a world of superstition and fear, in search of a creature that is as much supernatural legend as it is real.
© copyright Para Docs Productions Inc. 2009
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Following Martin Walsh's participation in The Nightmare (Paradocs Productions, 2008), a documentary about sleep paralysis and its cultural manifestations, Canadian directors Adam and Andrew Gray are pitching a film about The Ghost Leopard of Zanzibar, aka the Zanzibar leopard. Here's the text of their proposed treatment: