South Africa just instituted what amounts to a leopard hunting ban for 2016. Continue reading to learn more about what's going on.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, government of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) just announced that they will not be issuing any leopard permits during 2016, which means there is a leopard hunting ban there until this situation is resolved.
Even though the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has allocated 150 leopard tags to South Africa for 2016, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is withholding the leopard quota and is refusing to issue any leopard permits, which amounts to a de facto leopard hunting ban.
According to Stan Burger and Tharia Unwin, the president and CEO of PHASA (Professional Hunters' Association of South Africa), there is concern in the DEA that the leopard population in South Africa is in decline. However, no research has been presented to support this conclusion.
PHASA is pursuing legal action against the DEA in order to get them to reverse their decision and issue leopard hunting permits. According to Burger, the agency only used the input of an anti-hunting organization when they made their decision and did not seek input from PHASA or any other other conservation groups.
Clearly, the situation is still in flux and there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the future of leopard hunting in South Africa right now. However, whatever you do, do not go leopard hunting in South Africa until this situation is resolved.
With the de facto leopard ban in place in South Africa for 2016, any leopard hunt in South Africa is illegal unless the DEA reverses their decision and issues leopard permits. Unless you want to be subject to punishment for poaching under South African law or the object of the next Cecil the Lion scandal, don't book a leopard hunt in South Africa.
Fortunately, this decision only applies to leopard hunting in South Africa. Hunting for all other species in the country will continue as usual this year and leopards may be legally hunted in other countries, like Namibia.