Leopards in the crossfire

Leopards in the crossfire
Published: 23 March 2017 (2150 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

Senior citizen shoved into fire over gossip

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 73 Views

Nkosana Moyo engages the people living with disabilities

by Stephen Jakes | 16 October 2017 | 60 Views

WATCH: Mapostori physically attacking boy for stealing a goat

by youtube | 16 October 2017 | 124 Views

WATCH: Man drinks and drives while hitting 200 miles per hour

by youtube | 16 October 2017 | 142 Views

Busisa Moyo among the best minds we have in Zimbabwe

by Enos Denhere | 16 October 2017 | 60 Views

Artisanal miners being duped, losing $16 per gram

by Agencies | 16 October 2017 | 45 Views

Mugabe's wise counsel to Zanu-PF

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 72 Views

Mugabe's death postponed from 17 October to a later date

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 108 Views

WATCH: Twerking nurses blasted

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 93 Views

WATCH: Zimbabwe's currency crisis

by youtube | 16 October 2017 | 63 Views

Emirates FA Cup wins hearts of Zimbabwe soccer fans

by Agencies | 16 October 2017 | 67 Views

School hostel destroyed by fire

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 58 Views

Jacob Zuma honoured with giant bronze statue and road

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 66 Views

Zanu-PF now an old snake eating itself

by Patriot Matigari Muchaneta | 16 October 2017 | 74 Views

WATCH: How some Shona tribes mourn well-endowed men

by youtube | 16 October 2017 | 251 Views

Mugabes lifestyle audit long overdue

by Kurauone Chihwayi | 16 October 2017 | 147 Views

Jacob Zuma honoured with giant bronze statue and road

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 59 Views

WATCH: Nurses caught twerking while on duty

by youtube | 16 October 2017 | 253 Views

Harare's finest duo-darts

by Maenda Collen | 16 October 2017 | 62 Views

WATCH: SA cash-in-transit heist video goes viral

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 248 Views

Kwese TV keen on Zimbabwe Premier Soccer league TV rights

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 103 Views

Tsholotsho Declaration of November 2004: the untold story

by Jonathan Moyo | 16 October 2017 | 132 Views

Headmaster 'sexually abuses seven pupils'

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 133 Views

Ibhetshu likaZulu organises Gukurahundi commemorations at Bhalagwe

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 58 Views

Zvorwadza in court for insulting Mugabe

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 84 Views

Bosso revival in a screeching halt

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 59 Views

Dokora will not withdraw condemned Ndebele book from schools

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 69 Views

Government introduces livestock levy

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 80 Views

12 illegal immigrants nabbed

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 90 Views

Man gets tummy ripped open by colleague during fight

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 84 Views

Mujuru's NPP faces imminent collapse

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 106 Views

Man breaks into lover's room

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 84 Views

Solar power projects stall

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 55 Views

Former Zimbabwean soldier arrested in Botswana on fraud charges

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 70 Views

Mugabe endorsed as Zanu-PF's 2018 Presidential candidate

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2017 | 59 Views