Leopards in the crossfire

Leopards in the crossfire
Published: 23 March 2017 (2554 Views)
If cats do have nine lives, leopards are on their last. Especially the big, strong males of the species as the DEA seems set on reintroducing leopard trophy hunting quotas.

The DEA issued a zero quota for 2016 and 2017 - effectively enforcing a ban on leopard trophy hunting in South Africa. The decision followed a report by the Scientific Authority that found leopard population estimates unreliable and consequently, hunting practices unsustainable. Accordingly, a precautionary hunting quota in 2018 was only to be implemented following a number of interventions including the development of the norms and standards for the management and monitoring of leopard hunting.

These norms, which apply if quotas are reinstated, were recently released by the DEA and opened for comment.

Contentiously, the norms state that only adult males, seven years or older, may be hunted. While meant to protect females, and viably reproductive leopards, the norms quote a study which concludes that off take of older males has little impact on populations. According to the norms, if this age limit is adhered to the number of animals available to hunt exceeds that proposed for a sustainable population (10 -16% compared to the recommended 3.6%), essentially negating the very purpose of the norms and standards.

Pieter Kat is just one big cat expert disputing this study, "the '7 year rule' was based on a computer model generated on very limited information in Tanzania. Off take of leopards in South Africa should not be guided by such non-reproducible studies in eastern Africa." He goes on to say, "If those requirements cannot be proven, the entire proposed age limitation of hunted leopards becomes irrelevant."

There is also debate concerning if hunters can reliably age and sex leopards. The DEA says professional hunters will need to, "pass a once-off leopard hunting examination." However the website provides unlimited practice exams and one study quoted in the norms even says, "Respondents performed poorly at aging male leopards, with less than 50% of photographs classified correctly. Hunters recorded the lowest scores."

In the event that a younger male or female is hunted then that particular Leopard Hunting Zone (LHZ) will not be issued a quota the following season and an export permit won't be issued. However Helen Turnbull of the Cape Leopard Trust says that, "there is an illustrated lack of compliance amongst the hunting fraternity, as well as a lack of capacity at management level for adequate and realistic policing of the new protocols that are proposed in order to ensure only males over the recommended age of seven years are targeted."

The norms propose the SANBI-established LHZs with the allocation of one permit per property or zone per year, stating that a, "hunting permit allocated to one LHZ cannot be used in another LHZ."  But, "apart from the geographic limitation of one quota per LHZ, there needs to be clear reference as to how the quota will be allocated to an applicant," says Kelly Marnewick of the EWT. She has also raised concern that there will not be, "enough time for DEA and SANBI to evaluate and analyse data and adaptively manage the quota for the following year."

Turnbull also questions the work done by SANBI in the creation of the LHZ. She says, "the population estimates in the Western and Eastern Cape have not been adequately researched. We, as the Cape Leopard Trust, do not agree with the proposed hunting quota of 4 leopards for the Western Cape Province, and are in support of the rejection of this quota by the provincial issuing authority, Cape Nature."

Tharia Unwin, Chief Executive Officer of the PHASA, says that without hunting, landowners have no incentives for habitat conservation, "The legal off take of leopard is not the problem. On the contrary, without any legal off take, there is no incentive for landowners to tolerate predators." But Bool Smuts of the Landmark Leopard Predator Project believes that, "this document is a deliberate attempt, despite evidence to the contrary, to appease the hunting industry."

Although the purpose of the norms is to manage the hunting of the leopard in order to reduce the impact of this practice on the species, trophy hunting seems to be going ahead despite the fact that it may still present a high risk to the survival of leopards in South Africa.


- conservationaction.co.za

 0

You May Like These Videos

Comments

There are no comments.

Latest stories

Omega Sibanda launches his Zanu-PF campaign

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 131 Views

Chinamasa proud of bins ceremony

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 178 Views

Mnangagwa to tour Ekusileni

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 133 Views

Andy Muridzo wife refuses to kiss him in public

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 188 Views

Omega Sibanda launched his Zanu-PF campaign

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 115 Views

Spot FM changes name to Classic263

by Ndou Paul | 21 June 2018 | 88 Views

Mnangagwa takes campaign trail to Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 99 Views

ZESA employee electrocuted in Bulawayo

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 108 Views

Are tattoos good for our youths

by Tondorindo | 21 June 2018 | 100 Views

Welcome back our Original Mazoe drink

by Thomas Murisa | 21 June 2018 | 122 Views

Zanu-PF candidates threatening to shut down churches in Hobhouse

by Fanuel Chinowaita | 21 June 2018 | 129 Views

Mnangagwa to resume issuance of grants

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 100 Views

Your success is in your state of mind

by Enos Denhere | 21 June 2018 | 91 Views

Chamisa showed his true colours when he chose Mugabe over Khupe

by Anthony Mkondo | 21 June 2018 | 130 Views

Mutsvangwa barred from evicting Chipanga from farm

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 127 Views

Parly exposes Obert Mpofu

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 120 Views

Mugabe ally in court over political violence

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 115 Views

Chamisa to boycott Zimbabwe polls?

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 189 Views

WATCH: Zanu PF, MDC Alliance square off in TV debate

by CNBC Africa | 21 June 2018 | 148 Views

Woman to contest DNA test for 3rd time

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 157 Views

MTN increase LTE coverage and download speeds

by MyBroadband | 21 June 2018 | 101 Views

Mutsvangwa booed, storms out of debate

by Staff Reporter | 21 June 2018 | 212 Views

#ChinamasaChallenge a hit on Twitter

by Ndou Paul | 21 June 2018 | 178 Views

Teachers slam Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 146 Views

Spot FM Zimbabwe change name to Classic263

by Ndou Paul | 21 June 2018 | 127 Views

Zuma warned Chamisa against pact with Mugabe

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 257 Views

Mugabe's health condition 'is nothing serious'

by AFP | 21 June 2018 | 118 Views

Mukupe ordered to return journalist's cellphone

by MISA | 21 June 2018 | 103 Views

URGENT: Zimbabweans who worked for Wenela eligible for compensation

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 125 Views

Cleansing ceremony for Gweru- Kwekwe highway black spot

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 165 Views

.Man hangs self in neighbour's yard

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 205 Views

Peter Ndlovu's story told in World Cup advert

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 215 Views

Banks set to cut transaction costs

by Staff reporter | 21 June 2018 | 179 Views