The Namibian (Windhoek)
4 November 2008
Posted to the web 4 November 2008
By Absalom Shigwedha
THE killing of what was probably the biggest leopard in Namibia in September has also been condemned in South Africa.
Reports say e-mails have been circulating in South Africa, condemning the killing of the leopard.
Giel de Kock, a former game warden in Namibia, was quoted by the South African Sunday newspaper Rapport as saying it was tragic that the leopard was shot, especially because of its extraordinary size.
De Kock argued that all predators are in competition with farming.
“Could it not have been better managed so that tourists could come and admire the animal in its natural environment,” he was quoted as saying.
The same paper quoted South African conservationist Quinton Martins, the project manager at The Cape Leopard Trust, as saying removing predators such as leopard from their natural environment because of conflict with livestock farmers can have a detrimental effect on predator populations.
The South African condemnation of the killing of the leopard came after some readers of The Namibian last month expressed their disgust at the killing of such a magnificent animal in SMS messages sent to the newspaper.
The 82-kg leopard was shot and killed by American trophy hunter Brad Smith at the farm Gurub in the Khomas Hochland in September.
The big cat, which was about 10 years old and 2,2 metres long, was ranked the eight largest trophy of its species by Safari Club International, an international body of trophy hunters.
Professional hunter Gerard Erasmus of Sumsare Safaris, who led the leopard hunt, defended the killing of the leopard by claiming it was a problem animal.
Erasmus claimed that the leopard had killed over 50 calves in the area.
He said the leopard was killed legally as the hunter had a permit to kill it.
Approached for comment on the South African outrage at the shooting of the leopard, Director of Parks and Wildlife Management Ben Beytell said there was nothing wrong with killing the leopard.
Beytell said the Ministry has a Cites quota of about 150 endangered animals a year that can be offered to trophy hunters.
“The killing of the leopard does not pose any risks for the species,” said Beytell.
In Namibia, the leopard is a specially protected species and can only be hunted with a permit.
It is listed on Cites Appendix I, a list of animals and plant species that are threatened with extinction.
Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional and carefully controlled circumstances
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org