South Africa has placed a temporary ban on leopard hunts for the 2016 season, the reason being due to the uncertainty in determining the amount of leopards available.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), which is a government research organization approved of the ban. SANBI’s director of research, John Donaldson said;
“There is uncertainty about the numbers and this is not a permanent ban, but we need more information to guide quotas”
The leopard is one of the Big Five game animals (animals that are mostly desired by hunters), the others being the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, and White/Black rhinoceros. Due to the reticent nature of the big cats and their nocturnal habits, it poses a difficulty to keep tabs on them.
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The SANBI and Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) seem to be at logger heads over the availability of leopards to hunt. While SANBI says their calculation was drawn from protected hunting areas and national parks, PHASA claiming that SANBI was being partial stated that there are enough leopards on private lands, which SANBI took no account of.
The hunting industry is lucrative and provides an estimate of about $410 million annually. Most of the hunters are non-South Africans, usually Americans who pay up to $20,000 to shoot down a leopard. Seeing as the government is placing a temporary ban on Leopard hunting, PHASA’s chief executive Tharia Unwin has said that the funds of those who placed deposits had to be returned.
Unwin also added that the drought which South Africa is currently facing is good for the Leopard because the predators thrive when their prey, which are usually herbivores are weak and vulnerable.