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leopard © Simon Espley
A male leopard © Simon Espley

In a surprise move, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has issued a quota of seven male leopards for trophy hunting during 2018.

The quota allocation is five from Limpopo Province and two from KwaZulu-Natal, and the leopards must be male and older than seven years. The hunting of leopards can only be undertaken in ‘specified hunting zones’, where scientific evidence indicates stable leopard populations.

This after zero quotas were issued for 2016 and 2017, as a result of an alert at the time 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. This latest announcement by DEA was made based on a new determination by the same Scientific Authority that leopard populations in certain areas can now sustain a trophy hunting quota.

The Scientific Authority was established to assist in regulating and restricting the trade in threatened or protected species. In making this new recommendation, the Scientific Authority took into account data and reports from the National Leopard Monitoring Project and other inputs on leopard numbers.

As part of an ongoing adaptive management approach, the Scientific Authority concluded that a small quota, restricted to older males and coupled with the implementation of appropriate management systems as set out in the draft Norms and Standards for the Management and Monitoring of the Hunting of Leopard in South Africa for trophy hunting purposes, would not have a detrimental effect on the survival of leopard in the wild.

DEA further noted in their announcement that quotas may change every year depending on the updated available scientific information on the status of leopard populations in South Africa.

Read Biologist questions science behind leopard trophy hunting quota – written by a wildlife biologist who questions the science behind the leopard quota decision.

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