Trophy hunting: leopard update

Earlier this year, South African Environmental Affairs minister Edna Molewa announced a ZERO quota for leopard hunts in 2017, a continuation of the 2016 ruling.

This after an alert by the country’s Scientific Authority that the number of leopards in the country was unknown and that trophy hunting posed a high risk to the survival of the species.

But in the latest development, Molewa has now proposed control measures relating to the trophy hunting of leopards, that will apply once the quota is reinstated. Conservation-minded people should read the summary below, to better understand the situation as regards to leopard hunting in South Africa, and to respond to the Minister (you have 30 days).

Here is a brief summary of the notice, which attempts to establish a framework for future leopard trophy hunts:

1. Most leopards are hunted by way of baiting (using a carcass to draw the leopard in), from a shooting distance of 50-80m.

2. Leopard Hunting Zones (LHZ) will be determined, based on leopard populations and hunting pressure. No individual property may be included in more than one permit application.

3. Male leopards can be accurately aged based on the dewlap size (the dewlap is the loose flap of skin on the throat).

4. Harvesting male leopards older than 7 years has the least effect on population stability because at that age they will have held their territory for long enough to allow one litter to grow to independence. Accordingly, only male leopards that are 7 years or older may be hunted. If this rule is broken, the relevant LHZ will receive no quota for the following year.

5. Each leopard hunt requires a permit in the name of the hunting client or the local professional hunter, for each leopard to be hunted (multiple leopard hunt applications will be accepted). These permits must be applied for before September, for hunts taking place in the following year.

6. The professional hunter accompanying the client must pass a once-off ‘leopard hunting examination’. Bizarrely this website permits an unlimited number of practise exams, before the official exam is taken online. Professional hunters that can provide evidence that they have undergone approved training in the determination of a leopard’s age do not need to pass the exam.

7. Each leopard trophy must be inspected within 24 hours of the hunt by an environmental management inspector of the relevant permit issuing authority, and DNA samples taken.

8. If any hunt contributes to the destabilisation of the relevant leopard population, appropriate action will be taken against the professional hunter to curtail their leopard hunts and/or institute criminal proceedings.

Interested parties have 30 days from 8 February 2017 to make representations or to object in writing, to Ms Makganthe Maleka mamaleka@environment.gov.za and +27 (0)12 399 8865

Download your copy of the relevant Government Gazette notice (the leopard-related content is after the rhino-related content)

Africa Geographic Editorial

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  • Mike D

    All hunting of leopards should be banned. There is no reason a leopard head needs to be trophy in someone’s man cave. They are not easily found on safaris. They are iconic animals of Africa that deserve to free of persecution by greedy hunters.

  • Brosolo Francesco

    7 year old leopards are breeding males.
    Baiting is bad, (it was banned in Botswana long ago). It has been considered unethical to bait lions and yet, baiting leopards remains and generally leopard baits are slung low enough to attract lions.
    We’re glad that South Africa has a current ban in place on hunting leopards, but really, it’s time to make this permanent and worldwide.

    • The problem with livestock farmers is banned practices are not adhered to, I posted an incident of pups being staked out so as to attract the pack back in order to shoot them, this happened 2 years ago on a livestock farm in the Ghanzi district of Botswana, involving a pack of wild dogs, in the same area (also practiced elsewhere) a wild dog den they waited for the mother to return to suckle the pups, then during the night poured diesel down the den and tried to burn her and the pups to death alive. Regarding the staked out pups the pack did not return to the cries of the pups and eventually I think it was Cheetah Conservation Botswana rescued the pups in an attempt to save them and as far as I can remember most of the puppies were too far gone to save

  • rufusisadick

    I would like for there to be leopards left in the world when my grandchildren grow up.

  • MJ

    Stop hunting Leopards.

  • Michelle Horlock

    These arseholes are not happy until every wild animal is extinct. Makes my blood boil. Maybe then they can turn on each other. These governments need to make this illegal. They are messing with nature and whole eco system. Something needs to be done.

  • ctulpa

    Hunting of Leopards through a regulated management program is the best way for conservation of Leopards to ensure Leopards have a future. Without a sustainable use management program, Leopard populations will be decimated as Leopards will be exterminated as vermin and a threat to farmers, ranching and rural communities.
    The people who say ban all Leopard hunting as a means to protect Leopards do not understand the function of conservation principles and wildlife management programs.
    Leopards are tolerated by farmers, ranchers and communities when they provide economic benefit to them. Some may say that Leopards bring tourists, but that is only in the National Parks and other tourist areas where most of the Leopards do not inhabit. The majority of Leopard range is outside those tourist areas, where Leopards do not bring value without a sustainable use management program allowing for harvest of excess Leopards.
    Contrary to many media misrepresentations, bans will not protect wildlife and the only result of bans is to make unknowing public feel good to think they are doing something for wildlife, which is a fallacy.

  • Whattheh***

    ditto to rufusisadick

  • While I am not a carnivore expert, speaking to a few people who have studied leopards in Namibia, it is very difficult to get an accurate population density number on them, unless an area is specifically studied with radio collars, camera traps, tracking etc. As very secretive, able to survive on small prey, they can exist close to human habitation and nobody be aware that they are there most of the time. However I assume that this applies to livestock farmers? There are very few livestock farmers who are sympathetic to large or small, leopards and other predators; (in Africa;jackal, caracal, cheetah, wild-dog, hyena & lion (if they occur there), even large birds of prey, any feral domestic dogs/cats. African wild-cat etc.) Hence on most livestock farms, there is zero tolerance of predators and they are probably the most persecuted animals on earth. Trapping, poisoning, wounded, maiming, using hunting dogs to tree or trap them in their dens, burning them alive. If a livestock farmer for example happens upon a den with pups, cubs or kittens…it is shockingly common practice to wait for the mother to return then pour diesel into the den and burn them alive. I have heard of staking out the cubs, pups, kittens in the sun and forcing them to wail, whimper and cry in order to attract the pride, pack, clan back in order to shoot and kill them. So taking this into consideration, if there is a value to the farmer for tolerating the predator, through sustainable utilization that is monitored and controlled, one could hope that the cruel persecution of these magnificent animals is mitigated. Recently I saw a video clip of 5 dogs that managed to corner and trap a leopard, I could not watch it but according to the information the dogs were biting and pulling on the leopard while the local farm hands bludgeoned it over the head…several dogs were wounded.

    • King

      Wow. It took five lowly, rabid dogs and some disgusting deranged people to corner and kill God’s majestic leopard. This is one of the reasons why I absolutely hate domestic dogs. Evil at its best.

  • Rudra Chattopadhyay

    Any population increase that the leopards may register is solely to THEIR credit and we must not take any of that away from them.

  • King

    Trophy hunting should be banned. Period. These magnificent cats deserve to be protected, not shot.

  • Lori Shaw

    ALL TROPHY HUNTING SHOULD BE BANNED!! EVERYWHERE…ALL ANIMALS…ALL POACHERS SHOULD BE SHOT ON SIGHT AND STRUNG UP FROM TREES!!!

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