South Africa bans leopard hunting

Trophy hunting and the illegal fur trade are the primary threat to the species survival.

In a decision announced by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, no leopard hunts will be authorized in 2016.

The announcement comes after a recommendation from South Africa’s scientific authority that have found that trophy hunting and the illegal fur trade are the primary threat to the species survival, whose population remains unknown given their nocturnal and elusive habits.

In previous years, the department has issued up to 150 leopard permits, in accordance with CITES.  However, because of the leopard’s elusive habits, this may be putting the species at grave risk without us even realizing it.

Considered one of Africa’s “Big Five,” leopards –along with lions, elephants, cape buffalo and rhinoceros –have long been hunted with impunity by wealthy foreigners.

This decision, along with others similar, such as the recent lion ESA ruling and new US elephant trophy rules requiring proof of a scientifically sound species management program before trophies can be imported into the US, are huge wins for animals, placing the burden of proof on the hunter –and more emphasis on survival over sport.

While it is unclear if South Africa’s ban will last beyond 2016, we are encouraged that these actions signify a growing concern over unsustainable killings of species for sport.  It would be a real travesty to wake up one day and realize the last of an entire leopard or lion or population is now hung on a wealthy hunter’s mantle.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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