#ShockWildlifeTruths: 'Self-defence' leopard kill in Eastern Cape charged as illegal hunt

2017-08-18 11:59 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - Burchell Private Game Reserve's vermin control officer, Dale Venske is facing charges, following the death of a leopard in what he claims to be self-defence on a hunting farm outside Grahamstown, Heraldlive reports.

Venske will be criminally charged for allegedly hunting and killing what is believed to be the "largest leopard in the Eastern Cape" after what was initially described as an attack on houndsman, Zwelake Dyan.

The report states Dyan was hunting with dogs during the incident which then led the Environmental Affairs special investigations unit, known as the Green Scorpions to investigate the shooting of the leopard and the overall circumstances around the attack.

SEE: Leopards in the crossfire: Trophy hunting and the 7 year rule

While SA's Animal Protection Act states that hunting with dogs is illegal under almost all circumstances, under the Endangered Species Act in 2016, leopards were determined as "endangered" species. 

And earlier this year, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) confirmed that a zero quota for the hunting of leopard (Panthera pardus) was extended to 2017 - with only a possible introduction of a precautionary hunting quota in 2018.

According to the DEA, the decision to extend the zero quotas for leopard hunting in South Africa was "based on the review of available scientific information from SA's Scientific Authority on the status and recovery of leopard populations in South Africa". 

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: DEA extends ban on leopard hunting in South Africa for 2017

Environmental journalist and Invent Africa Safaris Director, Ian Michler told Traveller24 that illegal hunting continues to the give the wider trophy hunting industry its bad reputation.

"It is transgressions such as this that continues to the give the wider trophy hunting industry its bad reputation," says Michler. "One would hope that the authorities take the necessary action and that the Professional Hunting Association of South Africa (PHASA) reacts appropriately as well."

"Leopards need all the protection that we can give them which includes a continuation of the ban on the hunting of the species," says Michler.  

Leopard population declined 

In sub-Saharan Africa, the leopard population has declined by more than 30 percent in the past 25 years and the species has lost 48% to 67% of its historic range in Africa.

Between 2005 and 2014, at least 10 191 individual leopards were traded internationally as hunting trophies, with the United States as the top importer (accounting for 45 percent of this trade).

SEE: PICS: Leopard gives new meaning to catnap... only in Kruger!

While the DEA’s draft Norms and Standards for the management and monitoring of the hunting of leopard published and the regulatory document containing a number of inconsistencies.

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs, Mohlopi Philemon Mapulane, says the primary mandate is to protect these leopards so that they don’t open them up to situations where they will be hunted and where they will perish.