Farmer accused of killing collared leopard
A CAPE farmer who reportedly received R200 000 as part of a predator conservation project to coax him from killing a leopard preying on his livestock is under fire for allegedly shooting a leopard roaming on his property in a “premeditated action”.
Bool Smuts, founder of the Landmark Foundation, claimed Dawid Smith, a Baviaanskloof farmer who advertised his farm as being leopard- friendly, shot the most dominant collared research leopard in the Baviaanskloof at the end of last month.
Smuts’ foundation works with local farmers to embrace non-lethal predator controls including the use of Anatolian sheepdogs and protective livestock collars, ensuring the creatures maintain their place as top predators in ecosystems.
“Smith has been probably the largest beneficiary of our leopard conservation efforts in the region, dating back to June 2007,” said Smuts.
“We essentially bought in his involvement, yet it seems now not to be enough. It is curious that this happens at a time when leopard hunts with hunting safaris are being offered to the tune of R250 000 to farmers in the Baviaanskloof.”
Smith received about R200 000 working on the predator control project and a R30 000 benefit in the use of protective sheep collars, as well as a sponsored Anatolian dog with food and veterinary care supplied for a year, and one leopard collaring on his farm valued at R7 500 as well as being compensated for livestock losses he suffered.
But Smith’s wife, Ankia, said her husband would not talk to the media as a case had been opened against him.
“He did receive money but he worked for the Landmark Foundation. The leopard was shot but he didn’t do it criminally. We have a case hanging and can’t give any more comment.”
Smuts claimed Smith had “called the leopard in”, mimicking sounds used in the wild, and shot it using a hunting rifle, citing the cat’s death as a blow to research efforts.
“It was the cat we collared over the past three years with a GPS collar and which formed part of the current PhD study in the region, which is studying the population numbers and dynamics in the Souther n, Eastern and parts of the Western Cape. The impact on the social dynamics of the already depleted leopards is unknown, but probably devastating.”
The dead leopard, he said, had been causing stock losses. “Smith was offered market related compensation on livestock lost to the leopard that was protected by the sheep protection collars we had provided, yet he failed to use such and still wanted compensation despite not meeting his part of the bargain, and also continued to shoot any number of other predators.
“He was in transgression of our agreement but despite that, we still agreed to pay out for those individual cases where the leopard was likely to cause damage but refused to pay out others that were not verified. I think he got annoyed and purposefully hunted the animal.
“In 2007 it was Dawid who captured a leopard in a gin trap, which broke free from its anchors and ran through the mountains with the gin trap still attached to its leg for three days with a pack of dogs chasing it – only to be torn apart by the dogs in the end.
The animal was among 35 territorially dominant leopards that remain in the Baviaanskloof region.
“We know of six leopards being killed per year but it could be more. The population can’t sustain the numbers being killed.”
GOOD ADDRESS: Rita Arlen of Clifton found this picture of a girl and her dog standing in the firebreak that became Nettleton Road. Taken in the late 1940s or early ’50s, it shows Clifton’s famous beaches and the relatively undeveloped mountain slopes. The recent picture taken by Weekend Argus photographer Leon Lestrade shows how the picturesque area has changed over the past halfcentury. It is now said to be the most expensive piece of real estate in South Africa. The temporary dome in the modern picture, on a school sports field close to Maiden’s Cove, was erected to host the World Social Security Forum late last month.
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