On my trip to Africa last year I had the amazing fortune and privilege to see a handful of leopards which are unbelievable in person with their relaxed, enigmatic, graceful beauty even in the extreme heat. I will be posting more photos of my trip at a later time but wanted to share this one of a lovely young female from Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. She had just had her Impala stolen by the famous resident one-eyed male known as Kataba – more on him later as well, who was sitting in a tree not more than five feet from her!
Right now Panthera pardus needs your help, they have been over-hunted and persecuted to such an extent that South Africa has extended the ban on hunting them into 2017. This means there is a zero quota which has stayed in place since last January. While it doesn’t protect them from illegal hunting, retaliatory killings, poisoning, poaching etc…eliminating at least one form of mortality is a decent step. Leopard numbers are not known and to continue to allow these animals to be killed for sport is just not acceptable.
How you can help
Until midnight on January 30, 2017 the USFWS will be taking comments on leopards. We are asking to protect them from both hunting and the trade in their body parts. What the leopard needs is a reclassification to an Endangered status. If you could take a few minutes to visit the link and leave comments based on the following below.
Please try to modify with your own words but include some of the scientific facts and references as the USFWS will only consider comments if they include this important information. You may leave your comments with your name or as anonymous. Just click the blue ‘Comment Now’ button on the upper right corner! We urgently need more comments before the deadline – please share!
I strongly support the reclassification of the Leopard (Panthera Pardus) to Endangered Species. I support this for the following reasons:
- First, scientific data shows that leopards are the most persecuted cat species in the world and that there is a major lack of data on the actual number of leopards remaining. Camera trapping surveys conducted during a study period indicate that leopard population in Southern Africa is declining rapidly and at a very concerning rate.
- One of the major causes of leopard mortality, trophy hunting, can be stopped immediately. It is known that trophy “off take rates” are exceed and that corruption in the release of permits for trophy hunting occurs on a frequent basis making hunting these big cats for sport simply unsustainable.
- Along with Trophy hunting there is illegal hunting, trapping and snaring, poisoning, killing for skin, legal destruction, farm livestock protection, revenge killings all pushing leopards to the brink of extinction. Leopards are also victims of Climate change and drought, which has an impact and threatens the leopard population worldwide.
- Leopard habitat has greatly decreased which also threatens the leopard population worldwide; this creates conflict with growing agriculture, livestock farming and urbanization. Fences and fragmentation of the leopard habitat will in turn reduce the reproduction rate of the species.
- Unreported and illegal killing of leopards is widespread across Southern African countries all of which have inadequate legislation and poor control to persecute illegal killings and manage the leopard population.
- Another growing problem is the illegal trading of leopard parts – like with other big cats the trade is not adequately punishable or discouraged by the countries where the leopard is an indigenous species.
- Finally enforcement is weak, incompetent, under-staffed and dysfunctional. Conservation departments are simply unable to monitor a particular elusive species such as leopard.
- For these many legitimate reasons I am asking that Leopards be immediately reclassified as an Endangered Species and all hunting and trade of this highly imperiled species cease.
For your reference I am providing the following references:
- Kahler & Gore, M.L. 2005, Local Perceptions, Human-Wildlife conflicts in Namibia
- Minin-Fraser-Slotow-McMillan, Understanding the preference of tourists for big game species. Implication for Conservation, 2013
- Nadal &Aguaio, A review of the Economic Analysis of wildlife trade, 2014
- Richardson-Loomis, The total economic value of threatened, endangered and rare species, 2009
- Ripple-Estes-Beschta, Status and ecological effects of the world’s largest carnivores, 2015
- St John-Keane, Identifying indicators of carnivore killing, 2012
- Swanepoel-Lindsey-Somers, Extent and fragmentation of suitable Leopard habitat in South Africa, 2013
- Thorn-Green-Scott, Characteristics and determinants of human-carnivore conflict in South African farmland, 2013
- Wilson-Spaeth, Governments are not doing enough to stop wildlife crime, 2017
- Cameron, Bustling trade in illegal wildlife products at Johannesburg market, 2016
- THE COMPREHENSIVE STUDY PRESENTED TO THE FWS ON THE 25TH OF JULY 2016 BY HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL –USA
- EMS Foundation Comments to the Department of Environment Affairs/Leopard Trophy Hunts