Southern African Leopard Hunting Perspectives

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by AFRICAN INDABA, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Southern African Leopard Hunting Perspectives
    courtesy of African Outfitter

    The editor of African Outfitter decided to tackle the issue of Leopard Hunting with Hounds and asked Ron Sparks and Ronnie Rowland to share their views with the readers. African Indaba appreciates that permission was given to reproduce the two articles.

    African Outfitter is an independent bimonthly publication promoting fair hunting and ethical business practices within the hunting industry. From a hunting perspective, the preservation of biodiversity on the African continent is the first and foremost priority. The emphasis is however also on the sustainable utilization of wildlife.

    Editor’s Note: The readers should note that the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) does not support the practice of using dogs for hunting purposes, where the dog or dogs act as the hunter. This policy, adopted by the PHASA EC in 2001, included that hunting leopards with hounds being considered as contrary to the spirit of the PHASA Code of Conduct. The policy was put to vote at the 2004 PHASA AGM, after being challenged by the houndsmen. A seventy percent majority vote supported the PHASA EC stance, thus ending the debate. When Roy Sparks brought the issue to the attention of the EC at the 2005 AGM, it was dismissed.


    The Houndsmen Say...
    by Roy Sparks

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    The traditional method of hunting leopard used by most safari operators is by the baiting method. A few lucky hunters have taken them by chance during the course of other hunting activities and in this case it is purely by opportunity.

    About ten years ago a small number of houndsmen started making their services available to outfitters seeking the assistance of their hounds that were being used to hunt problem predators in stock farming areas. The houndsmen along with their keen scented and well-trained hounds were soon to revolutionize leopard hunting in southern Africa in respect of the safari industry. Due to the amazing results and quality of the experience the hunting client was afforded, the practice soon gained in popularity in the market place and is now a client-driven demand. This can be attributed to vision and foresight on the part of those now in the enviable position of being able to offer these hunts.

    The houndsmen are specialists at their task of tracking problem predators and their knowledge and skill acquired from years of hunting extremely cunning livestock killers has been adapted to tracking leopard, making for an immensely informative and interesting hunt for anyone involved. Even for the bystander this is a most rewarding experience as you are taken into the Kingdom of the Stealth Killer. This is a proactive approach to pursuing leopard and is more often than not a hunt for a specific individual leopard that has a history of livestock predation. These leopard are specialists in their own right having evaded all conventional attempts by farmers, professional hunters and the game departments at bringing them to book. Conducting a hunt of this nature is an extremely revealing and rewarding experience for the client who is taken in pursuit of the leopard and enters his domain. The hunt may take the full duration (14 days) and it may be over in less time but the final out- come is not guaranteed. Like all hunting, these hunts are not always successful as there are limiting factors that may influence the final outcome.

    This is a positive approach to hunting leopard as often a damage permit is awarded and these leopard are harvested using less desirable methods such as poisoning and trapping. The damage permit is awarded irrespective of a client being involved or not and is not related to the CITES quota. If a problem leopard is hunted by a paying client it serves a good purpose as it means the harvesting of a problematic animal by a hunter that would otherwise be eradicated by any method, foul or fair. Fewer leopard will be put under pressure as this concept will be serving a double purpose. The CITES quota is over and above all leopard that are harvested as problem animals. The perfect way to deal with these leopard is by tracking them with trained hounds and making the chance and experience available to a willing and paying client. It is a sensible and practical solution.

    A very valuable point to mention at this stage is that the reader needs to be informed that those of us who specialize in this practice use trail hounds. This group of hunting dogs has several breed types who characteristically use their keen noses to track scent that is invisible to the naked eye – a truly remarkable feat. The specialist can train his hound to be absolutely target specific. These hound breeds can be traced back for centuries and were developed for the specific purpose of hunting by trailing scent deposits left by the game animal they are expected to pursue. If they manage to close the gap they are expected to hold the animal at bay until the hunters arrive on foot dispatch it. The pointing breeds can attribute their origins to the true hounds. Hunting breeds of dogs are synonymous in the world of hunting and we should be proud to still have them as valued assistants in the field for whatever purpose. To start discarding these ancient practices which are the very essence of the chase is senseless and in doing so we may as well throw in the towel on all forms of hunting. For most of us true hunters this is very much a heritage and tradition that we should be proud of and keep on handing down from generation to generation.

    Hunting with hounds has come under attack from many fronts, the most surprising of which is from our very own Professional Hunters' Association (PHASA). Their reason is supposedly due to the ethics of this form of hunting. From 1993 until now my hound teams have completed 160 successful leopard hunts. I have not had a single client question either the fairness or ethics of this method of hunting. I have, however, had many clients who have previously tried to secure a leopard by the baiting method, who had reflected on these experiences with contempt due to certain malpractices, etc.

    It would be unfair not to acknowledge the skill of some pro-hunters at baiting leopard and the skill required in order to do so successfully. This method entails putting up bait such as sections of warthog or impala in a tree and is usually applied in the true wilderness areas like northern Botswana, areas of Zimbabwe and Tanzania. The results are quite often positive. However, we must not confuse or compare the situations there or the leopard to leopard that co-exist with and are in constant confrontation with us humans due to their predation habits on ranches. The scenario differs entirely. Ranch leopard are street-wise and over generations have adapted to become super cunning stealth operators that will seldom if ever take bait. They have adapted so well under these conditions that they actually thrive and do remarkably well despite the odds that seem to be stacked against them. I am willing to say that, percentage wise, most of the top ranking leopard trophies come out of cattle ranching areas. This in itself bears testimony as to how successful they actually are.

    Here a problem exists in that often a rancher is not satisfied in having to wait for a pro-hunter using baits to kill a problem leopard with his client. It simply takes too long and is seldom successful and during this period he and his neighbors will sustain losses due to predation which they cannot afford and will not tolerate. They normally then take the matter into their own hands, often using poison with devastating results and aftereffects.

    Proudly the hounds have proved to be a practical, sensible solution in this respect and as a direct result have convinced farmers owning many thousands of hectares of land throughout southern Africa that there is a successful way of dealing with stock killers. All the private land we hunt on is now poison free and for the most part trap free. The leopard we hunt are free roaming and cover many farms in their territories. The farmers receive a handsome reward from us and most are far more tolerant of leopard on their land than before. I claim this as a very positive contribution on the part of the houndsmen and their teams toward conservation and ironically to the long-term welfare of the leopard and other carnivores.

    What needs serious addressing at this point is PHASA's adopted policy against the use of hounds for tracking leopard. PHASA has taken orders from the NSPCA and has acted in favor of their whims, rather than sticking to its guns on a practice that has many merits for both the hunting industry and conservation. If PHASA allows an organization like NSPCA to influence them, they are playing right into their hands.

    In the UK fox hunting and firearms have been banned, a classic victory for the anti's using the old method of divide and rule. We cannot afford a division or any concessions to the anti's as it is just the first nail in the coffin. All hunting is under threat and none of us in the business of hunting or those that contribute to hunting by way of paying for the privilege to hunt can afford division at all. We need to be rational and tolerant and supportive of all role-players in the hunting practice.

    We houndsmen are sorely tempted to join the fray and get involved in the mud-slinging in an effort to defend ourselves. If we had to reveal what is currently happening during some of these baited hunts it would only serve to further strengthen the case of any radical anti-hunting movements by discrediting hunters as a whole, and assisting the anti's to reach their ultimate goal which would be an outright ban on all hunting. My goal is to achieve unity between us hunters by encouraging tolerance and common sense.

    PHASA would be respected by all concerned hunters if they would only acknowledge the fact that they actually oppose hound hunting because it is far more successful than baiting, not because of the ethics or NSPCA. They regard this as unfair competition as many hunting clients are choosing to hunt their leopards with hounds, rather than do a baited hunt. Unfortunately not every outfitter has access to a good hound team, but pretending to concede to demands by NSPCA is a shameful excuse. We believe PHASA's true motive is competition in the industry. They would do better to come on board and benefit from the services we can assist with, rather than resort to conniving tactics. At this point they are portraying divided loyalties, which should be a matter of extreme concern to all participating in the industry and creating a wonderful opportunity for the anti-hunting fraternity to divide and rule!

    I attended the 2005 PHASA AGM to represent the Southern African Houndsmen Association (SAHA). At this meeting, I was informed by Mr Stewart Dorrington, chairman of PHASA, that his association had already adopted a policy against the use of hounds to track leopard and that there would be no further discussion on the matter as a decision had already been reached.

    Dorrington explained that the decision was in the best interest of PHASA and the hunting industry. He explained that in dealing with NSPCA, he was told by their representatives that they did not have problems with hunting as such, but practices like using dogs to hunt leopard were unacceptable to them. In respect of their sentiment toward this practice, he felt that PHASA should distance itself and not associate itself with anyone using hounds.

    I feel PHASA should seriously reconsider conceding to the wishes of an extremely anti-bloodsport organization, as believing that the society actually condones certain methods of sport hunting is extremely naive. Making concessions to an organization like NSPCA is just the first nail in the coffin. What will be their next demand? Hunting with hounds is a perfectly acceptable and very popular method of hunting many animals in Europe and the Americas. Why is PHASA suddenly supposedly embarrassed to be associated with it?

    At a special meeting called for Eastern Cape members concerning several matters, I used the opportunity to raise this issue again. This took place during the same PHASA conference mentioned above. A vote was called for by those attending this meeting and virtually everyone voted in favor of the use of hounds for hunting. Realizing the popularity and support this practice received, Matthew Greef, in defense of PHASA, stated that PHASA was not in favor of hunting leopard this way. PHASA did not have a problem with the use of hounds for hunting caracal or bushpig, or for that matter, employing them to flush blue duiker and bushbuck. I find this remark to be a contradiction to the policy adopted by PHASA. The question which now begs to be asked is how can leopard be accorded a higher status than other game animals and on what grounds? I was taught to revere and respect all huntable game animals, irrespective of the species or if it was classified as one of the Big Five. We are talking about basic principles.

    Briefly, before closing, I would like to add that hounds have been around for a long time. This is not something new and sinister. There are records of the British settlers bringing hounds into the Cape in the 1800's and a lot of leopard were successfully hunted with hounds in the old Cape province because of predation on domestic stock. It is only recently, since money has become involved, that we who have had the vision to offer these classical hunts to paying clients, have been the target of our competitors who do not offer these hunts. Some other operators who do not have access to hounds regard us as a threat because so many clients now want to book their leopard hunt with hounds. It has become obvious to us as houndsmen that we are simply being targeted by fellow hunters so as to eliminate us as competitors in the business! As the old saying goes, "Money is the root of all evil!" How sad it is that our very own association chooses to "run with the hares, rather than hunt with the hounds!"



    Views of an Old Professional Hunter
    by Ronnie Rowland, Past President PHASA

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    Ortega made famous the words: "A hunter does not hunt to kill, but kills to have hunted". The struggle to survive, the keenest of senses and the wisdom of experience are the hallmarks of the hunted. To pit your own skills, senses and wisdom against those of the struggle hardened and wisest of the bush, be it an old kudu bull or leopard, constitutes the true spirit and ultimate experience of selective trophy hunting. To me hunting is neither a sport nor an art. It is much more – it is a way of life, it encapsulates my whole existence, it embodies the soul of my being. Humankind has become entrapped in comfort and luxury – it can no longer escape the modern way of life, which is driven by self-interest and materialism. Quick-fix solutions, fast and ready food habits, instant guaranteed results and consumerism, are the order of the day. Modern life governed by technology has left no part of our existence untouched, not even hunting. To underline this fact compare the development of safari hunting of yesteryear to that of today, e.g. the basic fly camp has in most cases been turned into a luxury 5-star lodge. So too, compare the evolution that has taken place in our own fraternity. Today just about anyone, even "suites" (city slickers), can become PH's and outfitters. In most cases we have evolved from being a person who grew up with nature and was part thereof, loving the wilderness for what it is, to being an astute business manager, driven by demand and supply, detached from the ways of the wild, serving the demands of the modern-day client who in most cases is a collector, wanting to bag as many animals in as short a time possible.

    The trophy has been reduced to being a collection item. Its value is judged according to the tape measure and record book. I often wonder about what and whose record book? What has happened to the actual experience i.e. the hunt itself? The only thing that seems to count nowadays is instant results and even worse, guarantees. Ten or more trophies in seven days – supermarket hunting fuelling the practices of put and take, guaranteed lion (canned) and leopard (caged) shooting.

    Gone are the days of the true spirit of hunting where the actual hunt overshadowed everything, where nothing was guaranteed, where you had to depend on your skills, senses (including the sixth sense – what is that?) and knowledge of the bush and its animals. No longer (in most cases) does a client book his/her hunt with a personality e.g. a Selby, who has earned his reputation and experience the hard way deserving respect. On the contrary, as pointed out, most of the modern-day clients want quick-fix, guaranteed, instant results since their time is limited and their money is the sweetest lure to those outfitters who readily adapt and provide him/her with what they want. Welcome to the world where the thunder of the dollar god reigns.

    Reading the above you may think that here we have another old cynical PH yearning for the glory of days gone by. Or you might even think of me as a relic of the past who, just like the dinosaurs, cannot adapt and will become extinct. If so, you are wrong on both accounts because I believe there are enough of us around (old and new PH's) who have a conscience and who can stop the rot by standing up to be counted and show the way back to the roots. Now you will be asking, what has this got to do with the topic being discussed? Allow me to explain.

    Being a known opponent of hunting leopard with hounds as well as having been part of the deliberations and decisions on this subject, I was asked to put my thoughts on paper. Addressing this sensitive issue I would like to, at the outset, clarify my position with a few points of departure. First and foremost, I would like to state that I am neither against hounds nor ethical hounds men. I know quite a few and respect them. Secondly, being of German descent, I certainly do not contest the place of hounds or gundogs in the tradition of hunting. On the contrary, they have earned their rightful place as a hunting companion and aid, e.g. in the wingshooting fraternity. In addition they have become an integral part of for example the European hunting tradition (where human tracking skills have almost become obsolete) as flushing dogs during driven hunts or as tracking dogs once game is wounded.

    Even in our own country the tradition of using well trained dogs for predator control or driven hunts are part and parcel of traditional hunting amongst our indigenous peoples and especially the folk from the Eastern Cape. The latter tradition mainly evolved from a yearly social event where farmers, their families and friends gathered, whilst unfortunately it needs to be said that the former type of dog hunting by indigenous people has changed from being a hunt for meat for existence to being a gambling exercise and commercial poaching.

    All this, however, has in my opinion nothing to do with hunting leopard with hounds. If so, then what? Having briefly touched on our modern way of life in my introduction, I believe that we as entrapped consumers are being forced away from nature. As guiding principle in our market-driven global economy a false rationality, namely brutal capitalism, has become the norm of survival. I use the term "false rationality" deliberately since it should and cannot be construed as being the same as the rationality which is inherent in the ways of the wild, where mutual respect despite inequality and survival of the fittest are the norms of the day.

    In addition to this, is it not true that generally speaking supply and demand plus maximizing profits have become the essence of our existence? By this I mean that most of our decisions and actions are based on calculable utilitarian reasoning. Even in hunting we have embarked on a mission of trying to justify our actions and existence by means of utilitarian arguments such as the sustainable utilization of wildlife based on the wise consumptive use as a means.

    In 1998, I have already made the point that we are neglecting morality in our reasoning. With regards to ethics I furthermore argued that the root problem in many cases was our refusal to admit to some things we do as being ethically indefensible, even though they might be legal or tradition.

    The common error we keep on making whenever reasoning about ethical behavior, I believe, is confusing prudence with morality. Prudence in this case means acting with one's overall best interest in mind, whilst morality sometimes requires sacrificing self-interest in the service of a greater good. In practical terms this means that prudent decisions (e.g. hunting problem leopard with hounds as a wise consumptive use alternative) require thorough knowledge of the issue at stake only (e.g. overpopulation of leopard, livestock farmers killing leopard with poison, using hound hunting to increase success rate and change farmer's attitude, etc.) whilst moral decisions involve something more, namely conscience (e.g. is it morally defensible to chase down the prince of stealth, king of survival and ultimate hunter with a pack of hounds to have a paying client kill it or does this type of killing leave this noble creature any dignity?) Obligations and actions in wildlife preservation and conservation have no moral meaning without conscience! Bare facts alone should never supersede our conscience!

    Furthermore it needs to be emphasized that most of us tend to confuse legality, inclusive of traditions, with morality. For example, we know that many immoral activities and behavior are prohibited by law. This, however, should not soothe our conscience, since not all behavior permitted by law can be considered as being moral. A case in point is the "canned lion" or captive bred lion shooting debacle. We as hunters should never assume that whatever the game and hunting laws and regulations permit or even tradition supports, is morally correct or acceptable. We are all obliged to evaluate on an ongoing basis all laws, traditions and actions according to our moral sense.

    This brings us to the question on hand whether hound hunting of leopard should be permitted or not. In arguing this point I want to emphasize that my quarrel is neither with ethical hounds men nor their hounds. It also needs to be pointed out that I'm neither a total novice in this regard nor am I an inexperienced protagonist against hound hunting, speaking for a lobby, since I have myself chased down cattle killers with mongrel dogs in my youth as well as have had the opportunity to experience first hand leopard and caracal hunting with well-trained hounds in the company of ethical houndsmen. As far as anyone else is concerned, allow me to assure you that I have always been my own man with my own ideas. Those of you who know me, know this to be true because I have always put animals first. Thus my arguments, points of view and discussion do not purport to be the know it all and be it all – they merely portray my opinion and soul.

    The first point I would like to raise in this regard is the question who actually hunts the leopard when a houndsman and hounds are involved? Is it not so that it is the houndsman, more specifically his hounds? The paying client merely tries to keep up with the dogs, which seldom happens, eventually reaching the point where the dogs have either cornered or treed the leopard and then kills it. Question: How many houndsmen can keep up with the hounds, let alone PH's and clients? Based on my opening thoughts on hunting I cannot but deduce that in this case it is the hounds that do the hunting and not the PH and his client. He merely does the killing and irrespective of the thrill of the chase, he definitely does not hunt according to my definition.

    My second concern raises the question of ethics versus materialism. As pointed out to Barry York, a well-respected hounds man arguing for the case of hound hunting leopard, I do not believe that in our world today there are many Barry Yorks around, irrespective of whether we can by law regulate this activity e.g. by limiting the registered number of packs, etc. There are just no guarantees avoiding the pitfalls where materialistic aims will supersede true ethical behavior. I know most of my col- leagues and certain farmers and, sad as it may seem, soon we could be confronted by the fact that every leopard becomes a problem animal.

    As a matter of fact, some farmers would be happy to eradicate the leopard in their area and so too there are outfitters/PH's who would readily oblige. Believe it or not, but it has already happened that in certain areas two to three hound- hunted leopard were killed as problem leopard, but only the largest was reported for export purposes.

    In addition we should not turn a blind eye to the development of hound-hunting the bongo in certain African states. This elusive forest dweller once upon a time represented the holy grail of African hunting (fortunately in some areas still does) – no guarantees of success plus the difficulty of the hunt and its terrain including climate, rightly elevated it to a status beyond the dreams of everyday mortals.

    Is it a coincidence that after the introduction of hounds in certain areas and states that we see more and more outfitters and agents at hunting conventions offering 100% bongo hunts? Add to this the remarks of some well-respected taxidermists that the trophy quality of bongo has diminished drastically over the past few years and we can safely assume another victory for our market-driven march of folly where demand and supply dictate. Having said this, it however also needs to be pointed out that the above should not detract from the fact that there are still more than enough ethical bongo outfitters and PH's out there that have not bowed to the dollar god. Hats off to our iron men within the ranks of our fraternity!

    Whilst on the topic of materialistic gain (refer to introductory remarks) the following question inadvertently jumps to mind: Why is it that purporters argue that stock farmers can be educated and persuaded to rather conserve their leopard than poison them? Why can this only be done by raising the success rate of leopard hunting through hound hunting? Why not increase the price of a leopard hunt to be on par with lion and elephant hunting and to pay the farmer accordingly? Won't the latter also change the farmer's attitude to rather conserve?

    I personally do not for one minute believe this, since a farmer that poisons in most cases will carry on doing so! My father always said a leopard never changes its spots. The same goes for the unethical PH and outfitter. Thus my answer to the argument of increasing the success rate and possible greater conservation of leopard by stock farmers is that only one party can gain by this, namely the PH/outfitter since the demand by clients exists and money is to be made. Where possibly could the moral base be regarding this position? To my mind non-existent! On a side-note – who was first, the leopard or the cow?

    Turning to a more emotive dimension inherent in this discourse, which most of us tend to overlook, i.e. the leopard itself. Put yourself in his shoes (paws) and view the whole exercise and happening of hound hunting through his eyes.

    To actually understand this, we need to first take a closer look at who and what he is. To me he is the prince of the wildlife universe. He is the ultimate hunter (something we would all like to be). Silent, stealthy, powerful, secretive, cunning, regal, noble, he is grand, a gentleman (letting his lady feed first whilst pairing, in many cases, to the detriment of many an experienced and novice PH) and above all he is wise! Add any adjective to describe him and you will be spot-on. He embodies the totality of beauty in nature, dead or alive. When seeing him jump up effortlessly to the bait in the last rays of sunlight, his grace and poise, his golden brown illuminated skin represents the golden fleece of hunting, the sight of which to me is heaven on earth. If ever I were to be found worthy enough of being accepted beyond the pearly gates into the great hunting grounds in the sky I imagine he will be the shining light illuminating paradise.

    Having waxed lyrical the essence of beauty to me as a hunter, we should also not forget that the leopard throughout his life survives on his own. Unlike his big brother, the lion, he is dependent on his own skills and cunning as a predator to prevail. To subject this animal to the practice of chasing him with a howling pack and in most cases with no escape and then having him killed by a paying client, to me is just not on! Imagine his panic trying to escape, then realizing there is no way out, cornered, he holes up or climbs into a tree, full of fear with the constant howling and yelping of hounds in his ears awaiting the henchman. No, this cannot be! We will be robbing him of everything he owns and represents – there is no respect or dignity in killing him this way, irrespective of hound hunting traditions or anything else.

    At least with baiting he still is the master of the situation and beats us hands down in most cases. I'd rather have hunted using all my skills, know-how and experience and not be successful, than to devaluate the personification of the ultimate predator. No money in the world, no existing hound hunting tradition, no demanding client, no stock farmer nor profit-driven PH/outfitter should be allowed to jeopardize the way of life of the true hunter. Prudence with self-interest as motive should never be allowed to supersede the greater good based on morality. A hunting world with no conscience will mean the end to us all.

    To conclude, heed the following: Whatever you believe in right now, please consider my final statement. Do not at any time confuse the thrill of the chase of hounds hunting and the killing of the prince with the thrill of the chase based on your own skills and experience. Make every client part of the hunt to the extent that it becomes his hunt. Let the actual kill be secondary so that the total experience triumphs and has a moral foundation.

    I salute every PH, including houndsmen, who has not lost his sense of being. Wisdom comes with experience and age. May we return to our origins where our love of the wildlife and nature, freedom and above all respect for Creation dictates our lives and not money.

    PS: I am a leopard hunter who believes in baiting and blinds as the only traditional way of selective hunting with a moral base. To those of you, who frown upon this method, believe you me there is nothing more exhilarating, captivating and interesting than blinds and a wily old tomcat. Wish you were here to experience what I'm talking about, even though we might not have success.

    Long live the prince!
  2. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    This is a very interesting read. Anyone care to comment?
  3. bornhunt

    bornhunt New Member

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    The big leopard issue.

    I would suggest people stop debating what is etical and what is unethical. Also please quit deciding what is pleasant for the animals and what is cruel. Let us rather decide what will be the best way of conservation. And when I say conservation, I also mean habitat and the whole ecosystem.

    I hunt leopard with my own hounds, as well as on bait. But I prefer the hounds. I challenge any bait hunter to outperform me when it comes to the size or age of the leopards we take. I will also challenge any bait hunter to try and be more target specific. Hunting with hounds is a wonderful tool for selective, ethical and exciting hunting of leopard.

    Ethics is not about the method of hunting that is employed. You can be unethical with bait hunting and the majority of bait hunters employ strategies that from my point of view is not ethical - motion detectors, trail cameras, night vision equipment, scent killers, to name a few. However, you will have more success getting the Democrats to agree with the Republicans on gun legislation, than you will have with all hunters on agreeing what is ethical and what is not. So let us forget about the senseless ethics debate. Rather teach young hunters ethics, from your point of view, like you teach them gun safety and allow ethics to be in the eye of the beholder.

    Leopard gets chased up trees by hyena, wild dogs, buffalo and lion. Now, some humans want to reserve themselves the right to decide for the animal what is cruel and undignified. By doing this, you are not acting in the interest of the animal and you are playing into the hands of anti-hunters. To illustrate: The SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) confiscated some hounds a while ago. I contacted them and offered to buy the hounds from them. The official asked me what my purpose was and I told him I wanted to hunt with them. He then informed me that the SPCA is opposed to hunting, because hunting is cruel. They will see to it that those hounds never hunt again and that they be allocated to owners that live in a city. I could not help but laugh. If you ever owned hounds, you will know they are made to run. They have to be out every day and run at least a couple of miles. To confine them to a house in a city is the cruelest thing you can do. In my opinion, rather put them down. But, the SPCA reserve themselves the right to decide for the hound what is cruel.

    If I can give you my objective opinion on what would be good for the conservation of leopard, I would begin by saying we should not only regulate the hunting of the leopard by a permit system, but also monitor the condition of the habitat on an ongoing basis. I have seen many areas where human encroachment has put an end to a once thriving leopard population. The reason simply being that the leopard habitat has been permanently destroyed. Furthermore, we should refrain from allowing female leopard to be shot. I know it is completely legal in several countries, but it is to the detriment of the leopard. Often the female who suckle young, will be the one who will take the bait the easiest. The bait hunter's client is running out of time, so he gets to a point where he will shoot anything with spots and the female gets shot and her kittens die. This is legal, but it is not in the interest of leopard. So, let us be objective, join forces (bait hunters and hound hunters) and find a solution. I would suggest allocating half of the leopard permits to hound hunters and the other half to the bait hunters. Measure and record all the applicable data with every leopard taken, as well as perhaps taking blood and tissue samples to get genetic information. This will enable you to get an accurate picture of what is actually happening in the field. The higher success rate of the hounds will ensure more available funds, of which a certain percentage will definitely find its way to preserving habitat.

    I have encountered several people who poison leopard, because of the low success rate of bait hunting. I have personally encountered a guy who offered to show me where he had successfully poisoned a female and cub. The carcasses were less than a week old. He reverted to poison due to the low success rate of bait hunting and damage suffered from leopard in his area in general. I don't have to point out the effect of the poison on other animals, like vultures and eagles. We have to stop that. Professional hounds is an extremely valuable tool in a situation like this. To conclude: Be objective, take emotional arguments out of the picture and have as a goal a healthy leopard poulation in its natural habitat 100 years from now.
  4. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    Hi bornhunt

    I would like to start out by saying that I agree with you on all of your comments except for the most important one.

    Now in saying this I am not taking anything away from hunting leopard with dogs I am sure it is very exciting and will defiantly be a challenge however, It has been my experience that hunting leopard off bait can be one of the best experiences one could have in your lifetime. Hunting is hunting and weather it is with dogs or baits both have the same effect I would like to ask the following.

    When you are tracking a leopard with dogs are you sure it is a male at all times?
    If it I not what do you do when the female charges?
    How much so called research goes in to hunting leopard on foot in other words a place like Zambia you will have at least 2 shootable males on bait before you decide on which one would be the best to take taking age as well as estimated trophy size in to consideration. This is all thanks to modern so called unethical technology the trail cam?

    I don’t know all that much about hunting leopard with dogs so I will not give my opinion on the matter but let me ask you this.

    What is better than outsmarting a leopard on a bait to have the privilege to watch him come in and then wait for the shot to present itself and then taking the shot?

    Yes hunting leopard with bait is not the most successful method but then you can argue that hunting them with dogs is cheating and this also leads to more leopard being killed a year due to a very successful practice not to even to mention people who poison them. Don’t get me wrong I would hate for a client to leave without a leopard but then again why do we call it hunting.

    As for you’re challenge on the biggest leopard bait vs dogs HHMMMM I will bet you that people shoot the right leopard over bait more often than not and with dogs given the excitement as well as the pace of the hunt do you get the right one most of the time?

    as for the whole issue with ethics stop worrying about the manner in what the leopards is hunted and spend more time protecting leopard from being poisoned as you mentioned earlier there I am 100% behind you!

    Cheers Louis
  5. ctulpa

    ctulpa AH Member

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    This is becoming a debate of what constitutes moral vs ethical vs humanitarian vs animal rights vs conscience vs legality all wrapped up into one topic and discussion.

    There is the talk about the honor of the houndsman and the chase of the game and its history in hunting. Then the discussion degrades to accusing the use of dogs as unethical, then to hurting the feelings of the game animal as he is being pursued and persecuted. A little later, the "prince" is raised to the status of a deity as he illuminates the afterlife. I thought I was reading something out of a PETA manual.

    The question was raised as to "who really does the hunting? Is it the dogs or the hunter?" The same question can be raised on baiting or tracking with bushmen.
    To go on to say that it is more of a "hunt" to bait and kill rather than chase and kill is absurd. Both are hunts. Both are done usually done with the assistance of others. If it is a PH with a paying client, he is either using dogs to chase, bay and then taking the client in to do the shooting, or he is using camp staff obtaining pre-hunt bait animals, to hang baits, pattern the leopard, build a blind, and then take the client in to do his killing. I personally don't see the difference other than with dogs you get to do most of your shooting in daylight and with bait most of it under a spotlight. Either way the leopard gets shot. Either way the leopard can use his cunning to outsmart his quarry. There is no "guaranteed" legally done fair chase leopard hunts.

    I have hunted leopard both using bait and using dogs. With bait hunting, I have 45 days from several safaris in different countries in leopard hides. It is not guaranteed.
    With dogs, I also have many days following dogs before finally getting an opportunity at a leopard that way. It is not guaranteed.

    Either way you hunt leopards requires different skills. But it is still hunting leopards. And in the end, the leopard still gets shot. Dead. Same result. Not more or less honorable in either method. Not with more or less dignity. It is hunting. It is killing. It is what we do in this sport.

    Trying to split all the different parts of the hunting community is just another tactic used by anti-hunters.
    Meat Hunters vs Trophy Hunters
    Trophy Hunters vs Collectors
    Dogs vs Bait
    Game animal vs Human emotion feeling animal
    Captive bred vs Free Range
    Bow vs Gun
    Crossbow vs Bow
    Big Gun vs Little Gun
    Cruel killing vs Humane killing
    Animals with feelings vs Animals as stock

    And on and on and on...

    Please stop all the labeling and classifying our group and our sport. We are hunters...not "dog hunters", not "bait hunters", not "Collectors", not "Trophy Hunters", not "Meat" hunters, not "Subsistence" hunters, We are just hunters.... so we use different methods. That is fine. Acknowledge and accept that there are different methods and some work for you and some don't. Hunt the way you choose and quit worrying about the way others choose or their motivation or methods.

    So much hypocrisy. Including PHASA. To say it is ok to hunt with dogs for caracal or bush pig, but not leopard? This is crazy. There is no difference. To split methods on different game animals is an agenda by PETA or HSUS or any of the other anti-hunting groups that want to make people believe the different animals "feel" the different methods we hunt them. We need to leave this type of splitting of the hunters out of hunting.

    If we want to manage the leopard resource, then put a quota on the number of animals and it is irrelevant if one is killed with using dogs or one is killed using bait or one is killed with using a bushman tracker or if it is killed with a bow or a gun. At the end of the hunt, it is still a dead leopard.

    To put the monetary element back into the equation, as that is what is driving the outfitters and guides to offer any hunt, it will be necessary to implement an allocation system to the outfitters for the available quota.

    To say that African hunting has gone the way of the "quick fix" is a direct result of the economics involved in the management of wildlife and the monetary value of the resource. And it is true that it is a quick fix and is money driven. As more ranchers turn their cattle and agriculture properties into game properties, economics have forced them to offer lower priced hunts to bring in more and more hunters. To increase the available market means to lower the prices. There are only a few that can afford the multiple month long safaris of yesteryear with todays economy. We would probably not have a PHASA or most of the hunting properties in many parts of Africa today if it wasn't for the incredible amount of foreign hunters that can only afford the "short safari". This obviously puts additional pressure on the industry to perform quickly and efficiently.

    The hunting industry must come to terms with who we are and what we do. We hunt and we kill. We eat some and collect some. We chase some and we bait some. We stalk some and ambush some. It is all part of hunting.

    All hunters have their own personal agenda and motivation. Whether it is to spend a month in a machan to "collect" a sitatunga or crawling on your belly through the tall grass and karongas to get that perfectly placed arrow into the ribs of an old dugga boy, or running behind the sound of the hounds on a hot track, or seeing the "prince" leap into a bait tree at last light (or spotlight) before you put one into his chest.

    Some of us have used many methods of kill and have many motivations for why we hunt. How do we fit into the killing category?

    Ethical vs Moral vs Non-Ethical ? Only the individual hunter can decide for himself the method of kill that he uses to satisfy his own personal beliefs.
  6. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Either way you hunt leopards requires different skills. But it is still hunting leopards. And in the end, the leopard still gets shot. Dead. Same result. Not more or less honorable in either method. Not with more or less dignity. It is hunting. It is killing. It is what we do in this sport.

    Trying to split all the different parts of the hunting community is just another tactic used by anti-hunters.
    Meat Hunters vs Trophy Hunters
    Trophy Hunters vs Collectors
    Dogs vs Bait
    Game animal vs Human emotion feeling animal
    Captive bred vs Free Range
    Bow vs Gun
    Crossbow vs Bow
    Big Gun vs Little Gun
    Cruel killing vs Humane killing
    Animals with feelings vs Animals as stock

    And on and on and on...

    Please stop all the labeling and classifying our group and our sport. We are hunters...not "dog hunters", not "bait hunters", not "Collectors", not "Trophy Hunters", not "Meat" hunters, not "Subsistence" hunters, We are just hunters.... so we use different methods. That is fine. Acknowledge and accept that there are different methods and some work for you and some don't. Hunt the way you choose and quit worrying about the way others choose or their motivation or methods.

    So much hypocrisy.

    If we want to manage the leopard resource, then put a quota on the number of animals and it is irrelevant if one is killed with using dogs or one is killed using bait or one is killed with using a bushman tracker or if it is killed with a bow or a gun. At the end of the hunt, it is still a dead leopard.

    To put the monetary element back into the equation, as that is what is driving the outfitters and guides to offer any hunt, it will be necessary to implement an allocation system to the outfitters for the available quota.


    The hunting industry must come to terms with who we are and what we do. We hunt and we kill. We eat some and collect some. We chase some and we bait some. We stalk some and ambush some. It is all part of hunting.


    Some of us have used many methods of kill and have many motivations for why we hunt. How do we fit into the killing category?

    Ethical vs Moral vs Non-Ethical ? Only the individual hunter can decide for himself the method of kill that he uses to satisfy his own personal beliefs.[/QUOTE]

    Cliff, said more than a mouthful and I can't agree more. The "old professional" that wrote the article in favor of baiting should join PETA, it was a article of contradictions.

    He talks about how he hunted leopards with dogs at one time, then at the end talks about how a leopard gets cornered by a dog pack and that is no way for a leopard to die (How Cruel). He talks about getting the price of a leopard hunt up to a lion, to help conserve the leopard. That really boils me. I for one believe the leopard, lion and cheetah in certain parts of Africa are mismanaged because of the people element, (They don't want them eating there cattle or game or a number of other reasons), and the other part is the government and the CITES permit system. All money does is determine who can afford to hunt the cats of Africa!

    As far as his comments on dogs making bongo trophy quality going down. Maybe, Remember, they can pull the dogs off a small bongo male or female and continue hunting for a big male. And yes it is not tracking and relying on rain and other factors. But the number #1 reason the bongo quality is going down is because of human intrusion. And I'm not referring to the hunting element. The more roads, mineral explorations, logging, etc. that happen in a area the more poaching and the bush meat trade go on to destroy the population. Notice I said non-hunter conservation activites are destroying wildlife populations.

    True hunting contributes to good wildlife conservation, Unfortunately, whether it's the U.S. or Africa, I see politics and other non-hunters activities destroying wildlife habitat and populations.
  7. bornhunt

    bornhunt New Member

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    Louis,

    Thanks for your input. I cannot react in detail. i am on my way to the ariport to leave for the Reno show. Visit me at booth 3711 and 3713 if you happen to be there. Shortly - any leopard hunter worth his salt knows the difference between a male and female track. But the proof is in the results - go to any taxidermist in Namibia and make a list of the smallest leopard. I guarantee it will be bait hunted leopard.

    Toby
  8. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    Hi guy's wonderful inputs and I must say that I agree we need to stand together and stop judging as to the method of hunting as long as it can e called that.

    Bornhunt I am back in South Africa and will unfortunately not be able to meet with you but would have loved to discuss the topic with you in person.

    I just am not that sure that you can determine the size of a leopard while tracking it every time I mean there is more to it than just the track in a perfect world people will only follow big tracks and look to only shoot males but this is not the case and some mistakes do happen. Then one can lose the track over hard ground, strong wind or rain so confusion is part of hunting on foot as I am sure you know very well.
    Sorry for once again drifting off point but I don’t care who you are things just are not as simple as find a big track and track it down.
    Bornhunt I am sure that Namibia is perfect for tracking leopard on foot and you have a great success rate in doing so because of the sand but I would have to say it is not the same in every country as I am sure you are well aware of.

    Good luck with the marketing all the best and I hope you do well.;)
  9. owenowen

    owenowen AH Veteran

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    I know many farmers who happened to shoot leopards without using dogs or baits ...now thats challenging stuff and maybe some luck.

    The only reason why leopards are hunted with dogs and bait is to get the client his trophy within his "package". Im not saying using dogs or bait is easy but if you calculate the successful and unsuccessful hunts then more have been successful using these methods.

    Me personally wont shoot animals at feeding spots or by dogs unless i was a livestock farmer that had a problem cat or two ... I feel that animals have it hard enough to dodge our bullets and gun fire so why make it harder by feeding them or using dogs..?

    Many would not agree but i have seen how even trained hunting dogs run small game down into fences or catch them and its not all that merry ..

    regards, owen
  10. safari hunter

    safari hunter AH Veteran

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    This whole thread is very interesting and reading the different points of view has broadened my perspective, however I feel that one point has not been made, which is that there is more risk of abuse and unethical behavior with the ability to hunt with dogs. This point by no means indicates that there are not many hunting outfitters who do it well and do it right, I just think the opportunity for abuse exists more when hunting with dogs.

    I believe the entire sauce that has been brewing in Namibia that resulted in this riduculous moratorium on Leopard hunting started with this issue of hunting with dogs and some of the rumors that were flying around about some of the questionable practices of a few outfitters. There were rumors of outfitters releasing Leopards from cages near where the dogs would be, unbeknownst to the hunters who were hunting with them. This kind of thing can not happen with a Leopard on bait, he is there on his own free will. Such unethical behavior ruins it for everyone!
  11. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    ...Very interesting posts! Having never hunted Leopard i have no opinion excepting that I see both sides from the bait hunters to the Dog hunters. The bottom line is we all are hunters & we have to stick together. We have to quit bickering back & forth amongst us on who's more ethical. Either way you will have law abiding hunters & people that will bend the rules in their favor. As long as the rules aren't broken it's probably ethical. Ethics are in the eyes of the beholder and who are we to judge if you are doing it properly!
    ... The old saying goes" United we stand, Divided we fall". It really pertains to all of us hunters!
  12. newguy

    newguy New Member

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    Calhoun, You are are correct.. If we as hunters dont stand together we are going to lose what we feel so strongly about. (Hunting) The same goes for gun control. UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL

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