Leop­ard-hunt­ing quota row

Zero ex­ten­sion un­nec­es­sary and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, hunters ar­gue

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK

THE DE­PART­MENT of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs (DEA) has ex­tended the zero quota on leop­ard hunt­ing to 2017.

This quota has been in place since last Jan­uary fol­low­ing an ev­i­dence-based de­ci­sion by the Sci­en­tific Au­thor­ity.

This was af­ter an alert was is­sued by the Sci­en­tific Au­thor­ity that the num­ber of leop­ards in the coun­try was un­known and hunt­ing them could be detri­men­tal to the sur­vival of the species.

How­ever, this de­ci­sion has not gone down well with the Pro­fes­sional Hunters As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (Phasa), which said it was deeply con­cerned about it and the un­in­tended con­se­quences of the ex­ten­sion.

“To the best of our knowl­edge, there is cur­rently no re­li­able sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to sub­stan­ti­ate the zero quota for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year,” said Tharia Un­win, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Phasa.

Ac­cord­ing to DEA spokesper­son Moses Ran­ndit­sheni, the de­ci­sion to ex­tend the zero quota was based on the re­view of avail­able sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion on the sta­tus and re­cov­ery of leop­ard pop­u­la­tions in South Africa.

“The Sci­en­tific Au­thor­ity rec­om­mended the min­is­ter ex­tend the quota based on the in­for­ma­tion re­ceived and re­viewed, with the pos­si­bil­ity of in­tro­duc­ing a pre­cau­tion­ary hunt­ing quota in 2018,” he said.

Ran­ndit­sheni said the Sci­en­tific Au­thor­ity took into ac­count in­put from the Sci­en­tific Steer­ing Com­mit­tee for Leop­ard Mon­i­tor­ing, com­pris­ing gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, NGOs, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of in­dus­try and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. “Also taken into ac­count were the re­sults of sys­tem­atic cam­era trap sur­veys un­der­taken in KwaZulu-Natal, Lim­popo and Mpumalanga as well as rel­e­vant data from the in­dus­try ob­tained us­ing Cat Spot­ter.

“Draft de­ci­sions from the 17th Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the Con­ven­tion on the In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites CoP17) re­quired all par­ties with leop­ard ex­port quo­tas to re­view the leop­ard hunt­ing quo­tas and pro­vide the sci­en­tific ba­sis for the quota al­lo­cated.

“This Cites re­view process will con­tinue in 2017 to en­sure that an ap­pro­pri­ate quota is al­lo­cated for the South African leop­ard pop­u­la­tion,” Ran­ndit­sheni said.

“The sta­tus of the Norms and Stan­dards for Leop­ard Hunt­ing, which are soon to be pub­lished for pub­lic com­ment, was also taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

“The Sci­en­tific Au­thor­ity rec­om­mended in its pro­posed quota a zero quota for 2016 and that a num­ber of in­ter­ven­tions should be im­ple­mented to en­sure the sus­tain­able util­i­sa­tion of leop­ard pop­u­la­tions.

“This in­cluded the de­vel­op­ment of norms and stan­dards for the man­age­ment and mon­i­tor­ing of leop­ard hunt­ing as well as the ex­ten­sion of par­tic­u­larly sys­tem­atic cam­era trap sur­veys to all prov­inces where leop­ards oc­cur.”

Phasa’s Un­win said the de­part­ment’s sta­tis­tics for 2015 showed a le­gal off­take of only 42, 37 and 36 leop­ards dur­ing 2013, 2014 and 2015 re­spec­tively.

“This is far less than the ap­proved Cites and na­tional quo­tas and speaks of good se­lec­tive and sus­tain­able hunt­ing prac­tices.

“Given the above, it is our hum­ble sub­mis­sion that the to­tal num­ber of leop­ards taken is prob­a­bly less than 1% of the coun­try’s leop­ard pop­u­la­tions, if the lat­ter is very con­ser­va­tively es­ti­mated at 5 000 leop­ards,” Un­win said.

She em­pha­sised that the le­gal off­take of leop­ards was not the prob­lem.

“On the con­trary, with­out any le­gal off­take, there is no in­cen­tive for landown­ers to tol­er­ate preda­tors prey­ing on small game or live­stock, and this re­sults in in­dis­crim­i­nate poi­son­ing, trap­ping and il­le­gal shoot­ing,” she said.

“The loss of leop­ards in the wild due to il­le­gal off­take and poach­ing for cul­tural and re­li­gious cer­e­monies far out­weighs the loss of for­eign in­come de­rived from the his­tor­i­cally low le­gal off­takes.

“This is an on­go­ing con­cern and sim­ply can­not be de­nied,” Un­win said. @Lanc_02

RARE SPOT­TING?: A leop­ard blends in well with its sur­round­ings, but they are still tar­geted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.