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Permission has been granted to shoot seven leopards in South Africa, following a two-year grace period. The Department of Environmental Affairs have authorised the hunting of two leopards in KwaZulu Natal and five in the Limpopo Province, although restrictions have been placed on the license. These conditions state that the leopards hunted must be male and over seven years of age. Leopards are one of the many animals often seen during a hunting expedition, but why have officials lifted their 2016 ban?
No Detrimental Effect
The hunting of these seven leopards will only take place in designated areas where there is scientific evidence to prove that the leopard population is consistent. Following an extensive review carried out by the Scientific Authority which took into consideration data and information from the National Leopard Monitoring Project, it was decided that hunting a small quota of male leopards would have no detrimental effect on the survival of leopards in the wild. As a result, the trophy hunting quota was authorised in June, although a public announcement was only released in August.
Protecting Leopards during the Hunt
The Global Dispatch reports that hunting of this quota of leopards will be strictly supervised. Application submissions and hunt return data will be regularly monitored. Meanwhile, the management of leopards hunted as Damage Causing Animals will be handled at a national level rather than a local one. Hunters must also ensure that they adhere to South Africa’s normal standards of hunting at all times. Hunters should use appropriate hunting tools including the suitable bullets during a hunt. The bullets used should provide a clean and precise shot to ensure a successful hunt is achieved.
The 2016 Ban
Back in 2016, South Africa imposed a year long ban on the hunting on leopards. This was later extended for an additional year. Due to an unexpected and somewhat worrying low seasonal leopard count, South Africa made the conscious decision to freeze hunting in order to protect the species and until there was evidence that their numbers were increasing. At the time, Andrew Muir of the Wilderness Foundation, stated that: “Until we know population numbers and carrying capacity we should not hunt them.” Thankfully, South Africa’s leopard population is now on the up, which is why the ban has been lifted.
Following a two year ban, South Africa officials have given the go ahead for seven male leopards to be hunted this season. Evidence suggests that the leopard population has recovered over the past couple of years and that there will be no long-lasting impact to the leopard population as a result of hunting recommencing.
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