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Information supplied by: Conservation Action Trust

Earlier this month a farmer in the Boesmanland region of the Northern Cape shot and killed a collared, female leopard.  

The leopard, which was collared for research purposes, by the Landmark Foundation in August, was the only collared and tracked leopard in the area.

Female leopard collared in August 2014 © Landmark Foundation
Female leopard being collared in August 2014 © Landmark Foundation

“We were informed that the farmer and his son were out on a Friday night hunting and they saw eyes in the darkness and shot at it, killing this magnificent female leopard. They claim it was an accident,” says the Landmark Foundation.

The project, which is based in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape, offers participating farmer’s compensation for livestock losses from collared predators, including the farm in question. These losses are verified through GPS coordinates tracked on the collared leopards. This is to assist in preventing leopard persecutions.

The same leopard shot in October 2014 © Landmark Foundation
The same leopard shot in October 2014 © Landmark Foundation

The Landmark Foundation was established to respond to human-wildlife conflict on farms across South Africa, where wild predators, such as leopards, are being wiped out in an effort to protect livestock.

Lethal predator controls, such as hunting, snares, gin traps and poisoning are still rampant on farms across South Africa, despite the proven success of non-lethal predator control methods.

Through collaring predators, the Landmark Foundation are able to study predator populations and their distribution to better negate human-wildlife conflict with local farmers and conserve wild predator populations.

A 2014 report in a peer reviewed scientific publication found farmers in the Eastern Cape incurred less livestock and financial losses through the use of non-lethal predator controls compared to the use of lethal predator controls. In Namibia, 73% of farmers who used guardian dogs reported a significant decline in livestock depredation.

According to the report, farmers saved 55.1% and 74.6% during the first and second years of non-lethal control, respectively, compared to their losses during lethal control.

“How can it be acceptable to shoot at eyes in the night when you do not know the victim you are about to kill,” questioned the Landmark Foundation.

The leopardess was the 48th leopard to die under similar circumstances (snares, gin traps, poison and hunting) in the Landmark Foundation area of operations in the last ten years.

© Landmark Foundation
© Landmark Foundation
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Martina Polley

Martina Polley is a freelance journalist living in Cape Town. Her work can be found in local publications where she writes about social issues, wildlife, conservation or the joys of travel. She spent two years living on a game reserve, a year surviving on baguettes through Europe and a month exploring India solo. Her favourite pastime is donning her Vellies for a trip into the bush.