South Africa, no leopard will be killed in 2016

Dopo decenni di uccisioni lo stato africano, per motivi scientifici, ha vietato la caccia al leopardo per tutto il 2016.

Cecil the lion maybe didn’t die in vain. After 8 months from the killing of the most famous lion of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, by US dentist Walter Palmer, South Africa issued a ban on leopard (Panthera pardus) hunt for 2016, also thanks to the global uproar in the wake of its death.


Leopardo nella savana
According to estimates, there are only 50,000 leopards in the wild. Monitoring these elusive animals is hard work


“Provincial conservation authorities were informed that leopard hunts should not be authorised in 2016,” the department of environmental affairs said. Leopards are part of the so called Big Five game animals, the five largest creatures of the Savannah, along with elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and buffalos. The term was coined in the sphere of safaris and refers to the five most desired hunt trophies.


This year, for the first time after decades, Western wealthy hunters won’t kill a leopard. The South African National Biodiversity Institute urged the stop of leopard hunt given that the size of the country’s leopard population in the wild is unknown.


Paesaggio sudafricano
The government of South Africa has banned leopard hunt for 2016


“There is uncertainty about the numbers and this is not a permanent ban, but we need more information to guide quotas,” said John Donaldson, the Institute’s director of research. Despite its large dimensions, leopard is an elusive, mysterious and mostly nocturnal animal, making it difficult to monitor its population.


Hunting is highly profitable in South Africa, generating a turnover of 410 million dollars a year. The ban has been thus hailed with disapproval by the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA). The African country grants up to 150 licenses for leopard hunting. Once the animal is killed, it is cut and skinned, in order to obtain trophies destined to be exported.


Leopardo sudafricano
Leopard is one of the Big Five game animals, alongside with elephant, lion, buffalo, and rhino


However, at least for this year, leopards won’t need to worry about rich Americans or Europeans who fly over the ocean and spend 20,000 dollars just to shoot and kill, in an uneven game, one of the most beautiful animals Mother Nature has ever shaped.

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