Namibian Leopards

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by AfricaHunting.com, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. AfricaHunting.com

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    Namibian Leopards

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    By the 1970s Leopards were becoming scarce in many parts of Africa, the Leopard (Panthera pardus) was included in Appendix I at the CITES conference in Washington, D.C., USA in 1973 ending the fur trade and giving this species the opportunity to recover nicely.

    Namibian legislation lists Leopard (Panthera pardus) as Specially Protected under the Nature Conservation Ordinance and as such no person may hunt a Leopard without a permit. Nonetheless, owners or occupiers of land may kill Leopards in defense of human life or to protect the life of livestock. When this happens, it is compulsory to report such killing to the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) within 10 days, at which point a tag number is allocated to the skin of such an animal. Namibia has a well established and strictly controlled trophy hunting industry. Trophy hunting is conducted under the strict supervision of registered hunting guides.

    Based on the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) Permit Office records, here are the numbers of trophy hunted Leopards in Namibia from 1997 to 2009.
    1997: 57
    1998: 33
    1999: 56
    2000: 59
    2001: 66
    2003: 106 (exported 100)
    2004: 119 (exported 100)
    2005: 142 (exported 143)
    2006: 250 (exported 184)
    2007: 210 (exported 197)
    2008: 280 (exported 250)
    2009: 259 (exported 250)

    The Leopard export quota for Namibia was set at a 100 in 1992. For the first time in 2003, Namibia reached the export quota of a hundred and was obliged to keep back some trophies for export in the subsequent year. At that time less than half of the animals destroyed annually in Namibia are trophy-hunted and Leopard that has been destroyed as a problem animal has much less value domestically, as the export of such specimens is not allowed. A proposal is put forth by Namibia to have its quota for the export of Leopard hunting trophies and skins for personal use increased in order to be able to encourage the trophy hunting of animals that would otherwise be destroyed in any case as problems. In comparison to trophy hunting, killing a problem animal has no financial benefit to the farmer as these skins may not be exported and the local market for Leopard skins is very limited.

    A study by Hanssen & Stander was conducted in 2003 to obtain a better distribution and density information on a national scale. This study was based on sighting returns from the public (including hunting guides, conservation authorities, tour operators and tourists) that are correlated with data from the intensive studies, and extrapolated to obtain a national population estimate. Based on 913 observations, the density and distribution of Leopards were conservatively calculated to a population estimate of 8,039 (5,469 to 10,610) animals. This population estimate, derived from a completely different method, is similar a study conducted by Martin & De Meulenaer’s in 1988 estimating 7,745 (4,182 to 14,483) animals.

    The 1988 study by Martin & De Meulenaer suggested that off-takes of 5 per cent per year would be conservative and sustainable. Based on the 2003 population estimate of 8,039 (5,468 to 10,610) a 5 per cent harvest would allow an annual off-takes of 402 (273 to 531) Leopards. The Leopard belongs to the category of "populations with full compensation", which means populations able to compensate easily a reasonable harvesting. Even if a population has been decreased to a very low level, it will recover its maximal density when the off-take is stopped.

    Leopards are still widely distributed in Namibia, especially in the central and northern parts of the country and approximately 77 per cent of Namibia provides suitable habitat for Leopard. From the intensive studies on Leopards in Namibia, the lowest density was recorded in Nyae Nyae Conservancy (0.82/100 km2) and the highest density was recorded in Otjiwarongo District (5.6/100 km2) followed by Waterberg Plateau Park (4.4/100 km2), Hobatere Concession Area (3.9/100 km2) and Khaudum Game Park (3.53/100 km2). The overall distribution of Leopard in Namibia seems to have changed little since the earliest accounts. The populations of predators are in general limited by the food resources and in Africa, these resources are determined by the biological productivity, itself determined by the rainfall.

    In 2004, it was proposed that an export quota of 250 trophies would be sustainable and would allow for a greater number of the animals currently shot as problems to be trophy hunted, thus increasing the value of this species to the land user. CITES Secretariat concurs with Namibia’s assessment and supports this proposed quota increase. In October 2004 the proposal was accepted by CITES and the delegation praising Namibia's management of Leopards and citing sustainable use and community benefits as reasons for their support.

    The Leopard export quota for Namibia set to 250 is quickly exceeded in 2009 due to a roll over excess from the previous years and to the numbers of trophy hunted Leopards taken, fairly early in 2009 the limit is reached forcing the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to stop issuing Leopard hunting permits for the rest of the 2009 hunting season. The entire export quota being already exhausted mid 2009 hunting season and to prevent export back logs to not make matter worth, the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) announces that the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has put in place a moratorium for Leopard effective June 15th, 2009. The moratorium is to be lifted just as soon as new Leopard hunting regulations are gazetted. The news created quite a stir, especially among safari operators with clients booked for a Leopard hunt later in the season.

    NAPHA in cooperation with MET got together to develop a new, fair, system to better utilize the existing CITES export quota and both the authorities at MET and members of NAPHA discussed the need for changes in regulations and a predator hunting committee constituting of NAPHA members was selected to draft recommendations on changes to the laws pertaining to Leopard hunting in Namibia. A special general meeting of NAPHA members is held on July 31st, 2009 so members can discuss the current challenges regarding Leopard hunting in Namibia. Lively discussion and debates on the status quo and the future of Leopard hunting, the way hunting licenses for this species are issued in Namibia as well as the hunting of Leopard with hounds, took place at the meeting which lasted a good part of the day. By the way motions which determined the immediate as well as long term future of trophy hunting in Namibia were passed by an overwhelming majority.

    The export quota is allocated "in any one year" so the problem of the roll over excess from one year to another, Leopard trophies not being able to be exported in that same year, can come simply from demand, can come from the fact that too many Leopard hunting permits were issued during the hunting season resulting in too many Leopards being taken due perhaps to a higher success rate that particular year, Leopards taken late into the year, or due to lengthy taxidermy procedures and any other unforeseen delays. Leopard hunting with hounds and how this style of hunting may be responsible for the filled quota also comes into surface.

    According to the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), the main reason why Leopard export quotas were filled these last few years was due to the increasing demand by hunters for Leopard hunts with dogs and due to the success rate of this method of hunting Leopard, about 80% compared to 20% using traditional baiting methods according to NAPHA. Leopard hunting with hounds has been discussed by NAPHA and Namibian outfitters for over a decade, with NAPHA even calling on houndsmen and hunting professionals who hunt with hounds to put forward and implement regulatory measures. The Leopard hunting accident with hounds of 2009 involving Brittany Boddington, Craig Boddington's daughter, did bring also lots of opposition to this type of hunting and reignited the issue (for more on this story click here). Hunting with hounds has always been a contentious issue in Namibia since a loophole in the existing legislation allowed it to take place.

    Numerous reports of illegal hunting practices surfaced, it was the responsibility of NAPHA predator hunting committee to consult with members on how to proceed with contentious issues regarding the hunting of Leopard, the result of such consultation was to propose to MET that the hunting with hounds be prohibited and to implement regulatory measures to put the hunting of predators on a sound footing again. Those reports of unethical Leopard hunting activities by hunting outfitters and hound hunters are putting Leopard hunting in Namibia at risk. Those reports and stories consists of illegal hunting practices such as canned Leopard hunts, trapping of Leopards to be released moments prior to the dogs as well as hound teams no respecting boundaries by going onto properties where they had no permission to hunt.

    The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) confirms these rumors and investigated all reports submitted to them, but has received little evidence to confirm these illegal hunting practices. MET says to have methods in place to ensure that Leopards submitted for export permits were not trapped animals, part of the reasons why photographs of the Leopard upon its harvest must be taken. According to MET caged Leopards have tell-tale signs such as injuries to the face, freshly broken teeth, bloodied and injured paws, rubbed fur and possible marks on the inside of hides that will tip off MET trained agents if an animal was held and released.

    You will find the Amendment of Regulations relating to Nature Conservation for Leopard hunting in Namibia (Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975) by clicking here for Official Leopard & Cheetah Hunting Announcement by NAPHA.

    For some views on hunting Leopard with dogs:
    Hunting Leopard with Hounds
    Southern African Leopard Hunting Perspectives
  2. Roy Sparks

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    Excellent Jerome - This speaks for itself bearing in mind I introduced the hounds to Namibian leopard hunting in 1997. Observe how it revolutionised the waste of problem animals into potential trophy hunted animals and how the quota was increased in that country - certainly not due to traditional baiting methods !!!

    What is going to happen to the problem leopard now ? For that matter what are ranchers actions going to be toward any leopard with the new system of not allowing hounds.

    MET being the official government body claims of very little evidence to support Napha's claims of misconduct.

    Have the houndsmen been treated according to the Napha policy of democracy ? In term's of putting it to the vote , strictly speaking yes. But then remember there are only a handfull of true houndsmen who can sustainbly satisfy their clients needs in an ethical manner in the whole of Africa. A minority anyway you look at it. Based on the information here it clearly portrays the role played by the houndsmen in the success of leopard hunting in Namibia and what value they brought to the industry.

    I may add that very few hound team opperators are selling leopard hunts themselves but rather market themselves as service providers to outfitters.In respect of the figures quoted here if the allegations are true about misconduct it would mean a very large proportion of Namibian outfitters were themselves involved.

    From my experience Napha claims are to a much larger extent based on speculation which is supported by the comments from MET.

    Houndsmen being responsible for taking 80 % of the quota reflects that a great proportion of outfitters were hiring these hound teams. Yet when asked to vote it would seem that a whole bunch of those outfitters actually betrayed the houndsmen they were so eager to make use of for their hunts.

    Democratic - I dont know. Please help.

    Roy Sparks.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  3. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I do know that as of this moment that a large number of leopards are being "wasted" by ranchers across central Namibia. Without the ability to use either dogs or to hunt them with baits after dark, problem cats are being trapped and killed or poisoned in meaningful numbers. I also question how many of those are being reported (particularly if poisoned). A way out of this box would seem to be a wildlife deprivation permit system of some sort which would allow the taking of problem animals by dogs or lights. Those tags could be issued on an as needed basis, but would typically be used by a fairly limited number of professionals where ranching issues are most prevalent. Average annual usage rates could be developed fairly quickly to plan against the overall quota. Until some method is discovered to create value for the largely nocturnal ranch cats, they will surely be the ultimate loser in this debate.
  4. Roy Sparks

    Roy Sparks Guest

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    Well the season is well advanced, 7 months in and we dont seem to be hearing much feed back from Napha regarding the leopard hunting ??

    The big roll players in the success of Namibia's leopard hunting have been otherwise occupied beyond their borders and we are very intereted in feedback from the " official hunting body " of Namibia as to progress and developments and how successful leopard hunting has been so far this season of 2010.

    I have my sources in Namibia reporting to me and was just interested if Napha is going to share any news with us. Roy Sparks - Sparks Hounds.
  5. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Looks like the net result is doubling or more the cost of a leopard hunt for clients, and condemming the ranch cats to being trapped or poisoned. The specialists such as my friend in the Erongo are having to buy permits from the outfits which don't or can't hunt them and that added cost obviously is being passed along. No one has told the ranch cats the new rules so they are still feeding in the middle of the night which means, without lights or dogs, the ranchers/farmers are killing them - seven around my friend's operation alone this year (that he knows about).
  6. Roy Sparks

    Roy Sparks Guest

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    Come on guys a premium leopard hunting destination has been the subject of a lot of controversy this year. Some of the best leopard hunting in recent years has been hosted by Namibia are you not interested in probing more where the new regulations have taken leopard hunting in that destination this season. Hell you the foreign clients ( hunters ) who have carried our industry for a number of decades by investing your hard earned dollars in our businesses should be demanding some feedback. You contribute as much to the welfare of the industry and wildlife as the very owners of the game. This is a combined international matter of interest to the hunting community.

    I encourage you to get involved and start asking questions concerning the results of the new regulations in Namibia - please dont leave it to a few of us.

    Regards - Roy Sparks.
  7. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    The question is what to do and how to do it Roy. Most of us deal with either consultants or the particular operation in country. In spite of all of the bellyaching with the current administration, Americans live in a country which largely works (for those who don't think so, I would suggest six months in the Third World hide-away of your choice.) How would you suggest we engage the respective ministries and people who can make a difference? My own experiences with such governments is that appeals to their better natures or simple logic are not particularly effective. What would work?
  8. Roy Sparks

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    Okay , I have recent written proof from a Namibian representative of NAPHA that predation on livestock due to leopard is escalating.These leopard are regarded problem animals and can be hunted by any means foul or fair.

    Reasonably accurate reporting from a reliable Namibian source other than the person first refered to says less than 20 leopard have been successfully hunted as trophies this year. That is roughly 8 percent of the CITES quota of 250.The source claims that surveys done with farmers in Namibia show that about 200 leopard have been erradicated due to predation on livestock this year alone.

    NAPHA and MET claim to support the wise and sustainable utilisation of Namibia's natural resources , yet they together formulated and implimented the new leopard hunting policy in that country. See for yourselves the net result of their efforts.

    Historically the best results recorded for baiting leopard for trophy purposes in Namibia is 15 percent , thats only roughly double of what was achieved this year , and we dont know how many of those were actually shot over bait.

    I have just recieved an SMS to the effect that NAPHA wishes to propose the legalisation of using artificial light in an attempt to increase the success rate. Is their objective of 15 percent success going to be more appealing to prospective clients ?

    Please note that before the huge outcry about leopard hunting in Namibia virtually every outfitter there used artificial lights on baited leopard hunts anyway irrespective of wether it was illegal to do so or not. So the only difference now if it is legalised is just that , it will be legal.

    Of your chances of being successful , they'll logically remain the same at around 15 percent. The only difference is your outfitter will no longer be moving under the proverbial radar !!

    As for the outcry against the use of trained hound teams , please remember that every excuse under the sun was delivered in argument against the method including our all time favourite - that it is unethical. The same professional hunters that offered these arguments are now going to be voting to legalise the use of artificial lights. With that comes an array of high tech modern equipment that could quite rightfully be considered unethical as well. Night vision equipment , listening devices , heat sensors , cell phone alarms with live images etc , etc , etc. Though even then , these have been used quite freely anyway , yet they can't deliver more than 15 percent success.

    Why is there no place for an age old practise by specialists , requested by hunters ( clients ) by popular demand , that has proved very successful and wasteless and if polled for by hunters ( clients ) would prove to be the more popular of the two methods.

    Put your voice alongside those of the hounds , call for the return of the hounds , the most sensible way of hunting problem leopard for sport and management.

    Roy Sparks.
  9. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Roy, I have nothing against hunting leopard with hounds, but your statistics are a little missleading with regard to hunter success using spotlights over bait. Like most specialized hunting, success largely depends on the ability of the outfitter/PH and the quality of his concessions. I know two, whose success rates with lights over the last several years, is over 80 percent. I think it would be a mistake to oppose NAPHA reintroduction of night hunting for predation control. If your statistics are close to correct, then the next logical step would seem to be to again allow hound hunting. I also think it is also important to offer some proactive mechanism to assure ethical hound hunting. It is very difficult to "can" a baited cat hunt. As you well know, some unethical houndsmen have made a living running released leopards which were trapped elsewhere on a ranch. I suspect such outfitters are very few in number, but they can color a whole industry. In any case, the best scenario for Namibia's leopards and the country's hunting industry is to get the predation quota under CITES control and ensure that mechanisms exist where they can be effectively hunted by sport hunters.
  10. Roy Sparks

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    Hi Red Leg , I'm not opposing the introduction of artificial lights , I only intended in " HIGH LIGHTING " the trends within NAPHA and how unfair and undemocratic and contradictory they actually are as an organisation.

    My information regarding the statistics on success of baited hunts was derived in a face to face conversation with a senior MET official. While individual successes may differ those were the averages. The same applies to the hound team operators.

    The point I was trying to convey is the NAPHA issue regarding the ethics. While both were previously condemned as being highly unsporting , now it seems that as a result of a failure to produce results with their current system baiting and spotlighting has overnight become ethical and acceptable.

    Ultimately we are looking at harvesting a sustainable quota which has been issued according to scientifically researched data bases by a world conservation body ( CITES ).We are looking at satisfying the livestock producers needs in predation control as the higher percentage of these leopard are hunted on farm land where livestock is raised for comercial purposes and predated on.

    Namibias current system of legal hunting methods and the possible implimentation of artificial lights WILL NOT in the least satisfy this need or even marginally compete with the effectiveness of the hound team opperators.

    It is very unlikely that the success percentage on baits will ever exceed 15 percent on ranches in Namibia , therefore leaving a huge necessity for farmers to resort to helping themselves in a most counterproductive way which has been illustrated in past years and repeating itself at full throttle right now and which is totally within their rights.

    They, the farmers , may legally poison and trap the leopard , now they may even allow PH's to use artificial lights and other gadgets , but they are not allowed to choose to employ specialist dog handlers to track the same leopard down for a sport hunter. Thats NAPHA's decision , please remember that , they prescribe to MET.

    NAPHA does not represent all the stakeholders in the industry and does its best to prevent them from participating in their meetings where meetings are held in respect of decision making. That is a fact , which they'll probably dispute. However I was at their SGM last year where I saw a local farmer being told he could not attend their meeting !! I know the farmer personally , we hunted about 4 leopard on his ranch each year for the past 5 years. No leopard has ever been shot over bait on his farm even long before we started hunting there. This was not for lack of trying as the evidence of old baits were all over the place.He was hoping to make his point as a rancher understood, and the role we as houndsmen played in controling leopard on his farm and the business he generated from it. He was a threat to NAPHA so he was asked to leave. Or shall I say he was a threat to the interests of certain NAPHA members in key positions.

    Now I ask you , how transparent is NAPHA , and how democratic is their system ? To many people are being led a merry BS ride by this crowd and its time someone pulled the chain on them. Especially the key position holders as they are bent on manipulating the system to suit their own needs.

    Yours sincerley - Roy Sparks.
  11. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Roy, I am on your side on this. Just think it would be a mistake to go after the use of lights issue. I think, with the right outfitter, they can play a useful role in managing cats in the predation areas. So too can ethical houndsmen and championing their complimentary capabilities to insure very few ranch leopards are "wasted" through traps or poison should be a goal all of us should support.

    I might have to agree with your assessment of the NAPHA leadership. I rode for eight hours with a senior member of the organization in August and we had what I can only describe as a "lively" discussion about Namibia's leopards. He was quite proud of the both the night shooting and hound bans. I offered him my assessment of the net effect of such policies on Namibia's cat's in the ranch country, and I am not sure he fully appreciated my "foreign" point of view. (Probably lumped me in with those damned South Africans coming across the border :) !) I should note he runs a plains game operation in the savanah area of the Kalahari and has no experience with leopards or in ranching where they are present. Yet, he is helping form the recomendations which are governing the current harvest.

    Keep up the good fight. I truly do support you on this.

    Joe Taylor
  12. Roy Sparks

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    Thanks Red Leg. Since the very begining of my leopard hunting endevours I have been of the opinion that there is a place for using artificial light for leopard hunting. I have never agressively opposed this alternative method but have faced relentless persecution concerning my preffered way of hunting leopard from within the professional hunters ranks.

    If one had to start a debate based on ethics regarding the two methods it could become very messy , so I have refrained from that as best I can.

    Sport hunting is merely a tool in wild life management and conservation , as is game capture , and culling of excess animals. I believe that true scientists and wildlife bioligists view it that way. These are the same people normally responsible for establishing quota's on behalf of organisations such as CITES.

    Personally I do not believe it matters much to these organisations how the quota is harvested provided it is done effectively , practically and that it is not exceeded.

    There is an exagerated tendency to over emphasize on the sporting and ethical aspects of modern day hunting. Very little hunting throughout the world can still be conducted in prestine enviroments condusive to the age old etho's of fair chase. Most Southern African hunting is done on ranches , and while a lot of effort can be spent on making the experience sporting it just amounts to another way of killing or harvesting an animal that should irrespectively removed as part of a management programme.

    Arguments on this topic cannot change the blunt facts of the matter.

    I dont believe hunters should be prescribing to each other continuously on their respective hunting methods , so long as they are done clinically and the population can sustain it ( within a quota ) and with the clients full knowlege of how he will be hunting for his trophies , within reason.

    If an outfitter is opposed to hunting leopard with hounds , he simply has the choice not to use that method. Dont go making rules to stop those who prefer this method simply because they are more successful.

    If you're an orange farmer don't go condemning your orange farmer neighbour because his method of farming oranges and harvesting them reaches the market faster and commands a better price and is highly sought after. Rather tend to your practice and get better or change !!

    If you dont play cricket , you have no place making rules for cricket players.

    Regards - Roy.

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