Farmer ac­cused of killing col­lared leopard

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

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.”

Smuts claimed

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.

Send in pic­tures of old Cape Town with, if pos­si­ble, the date and any back­ground in­for­ma­tion you have, to PO Box 56, Cape Town 8000, or to 122 St Ge­orge’s Mall, Cape Town 8001, or to arg­pix@inl.co.za. Please mark them clearly for the Week­end Ar­gus Pic­ture Edi­tor – Then and Now. If you want your pic­ture back, please in­clude your ad­dress.

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