Department gives permission for seven leopards to be hunted
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has given permission to shoot two leopards in KwaZulu-Natal and five in Limpopo.
The leopards must be males of seven years or older. This decision comes after a zero quota during 2016 and last year and is the result of a determination by the Scientific Authority that leopard hunting in certain areas is now sustainable.
The Scientific Authority said the hunting of leopards would have no detrimental effect on their survival.
The members of the Scientific Authority include one representative from each of the nine provincial conservation authorities, together with representatives from the Department of Environmental Affairs, SANBI, SANParks, and the National Zoological Gardens.
This has alarmed conservationists, who contend that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has insufficient scientific evidence to make that call.
Michele Pickover of the EMS Foundation claimed the existing laws and regulations were inadequate to address the many threats facing leopards and the scientific basis for the DEA decision was limited and highly disputed.
“A two-year moratorium cannot be sufficient time for the detrimental and unsustainable effects of trophy hunting to be reversed or for its effects to be properly measured. Trophy hunting is a threat to their continued existence and negatively impacts on the conservation status,” she said.
Bongani Tembe of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, said KZN was allocated the leopard hunts in June, although the official announcement was only made public by Minister of Environment Affairs Edna Molewa on August 12. Brent Coverdale, chairman of the Leopard Hunting Advisory Forum for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said the authorisation enabling the off-take of two leopards for KZN “is based on our provincial monitoring programme and is considered sustainable”.
The Scientific Authority recommended that no hunting should take place where leopard populations are in decline or where there is an absence of scientifically robust data on leopard population trends.
However, it remains unclear if this data is available. - The Conservation Action Trust