PH and US Leopard hunter in Namibia arrested

Roy Sparks

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My understanding is if a leopard is wounded by a hunter you may use dog's to find the cat and finish the job.
Yes Jonny that is correct. However a reasonable person should see that this scenario leaves the door open to abuse and malpractice. Participating members could easily orchestrate a hunt like that under the pretext that a leopard was wounded.
 

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It could be argued that perhaps NAPHA made a bad decision in 2009 by banning the use of hounds to engage in tracking leopard for trophy hunters. However the decision was made and is seemingly being enforced. The hound team owners effected by this were by majority South African based.

Resultant from this action are a number of factors that the subject of this thread may be attributable to.

1 ) Demand - Namibia rose fast as a prime destination for leopard hunts because hounds made for an exciting and rewarding hunt. This destination and method had become known in the market place and was hence a popular choice.
2 ) Decline of success without dedicated hound teams from South Africa led to a market amongst Namibian's for the sale of hounds from South Africa.

As previously pointed out in this thread it may not be a treasured experience to be locked up in an African jail and I believe most my South African associates who once worked up there do not relish the prospects of an experience like that.

That said there are a number of Namibians whom I know personally that are now hound owners that do hunt problem leopard within the law but it is common knowledge amongst the fraternity that other illegal hunts are being conducted using hounds.

Perhaps it would be prudent to review the decision of banning and rather once more accommodate the hounds in a well structured and regulated manner.

I sorely miss Namibia and the great hunting I experienced there. Potentially the best leopard hunting destination I know of.
 

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Yes Jonny that is correct. However a reasonable person should see that this scenario leaves the door open to abuse and malpractice. Participating members could easily orchestrate a hunt like that under the pretext that a leopard was wounded.
But of course....I ll bet it happens more than once each season in Namibia...
 

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It could be argued that perhaps NAPHA made a bad decision in 2009 by banning the use of hounds to engage in tracking leopard for trophy hunters. However the decision was made and is seemingly being enforced. The hound team owners effected by this were by majority South African based.

Resultant from this action are a number of factors that the subject of this thread may be attributable to.

1 ) Demand - Namibia rose fast as a prime destination for leopard hunts because hounds made for an exciting and rewarding hunt. This destination and method had become known in the market place and was hence a popular choice.
2 ) Decline of success without dedicated hound teams from South Africa led to a market amongst Namibian's for the sale of hounds from South Africa.

As previously pointed out in this thread it may not be a treasured experience to be locked up in an African jail and I believe most my South African associates who once worked up there do not relish the prospects of an experience like that.

That said there are a number of Namibians whom I know personally that are now hound owners that do hunt problem leopard within the law but it is common knowledge amongst the fraternity that other illegal hunts are being conducted using hounds.

Perhaps it would be prudent to review the decision of banning and rather once more accommodate the hounds in a well structured and regulated manner.

I sorely miss Namibia and the great hunting I experienced there. Potentially the best leopard hunting destination I know of.
I fully agree with you sir. Hunters should have that option, maybe too many cat's are harvested that way I m not sure. But from the pictures I ve seen you did a hell of a job on big cats!
 

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I fully agree with you sir. Hunters should have that option, maybe too many cat's are harvested that way I m not sure. But from the pictures I ve seen you did a hell of a job on big cats!
My point of view has always been that so long as the allocated quota is not breached there should be no harm done to the leopard population.

In essence the quota is established through scientific research and mediated by stakeholders like CITES. If the quota is regulated and not exceeded no harm to the leopard population should occur and benefits would be realised by all stakeholders including the welfare of the leopard on privately owned ranch land.
 

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Leopard hunting with hounds is extremely effective. I don't remember the exact figures but when they opened leopard with dogs the numbers taken far exceeded expectations.

But there was a bit of protectionism going on as well, the numbers of foreign PH's / hounds men (non NAPHA members) coming into the country was growing and some of the native Namibian PH's were feeling threatened. The closure accomplished multiple things, the country felt they had a better handle on the cat numbers being taken, the funds remained in Namibia and the foreign PH's / hounds men went back to their home countries.

@Roy Sparks, I agree Namibia is still the best destination for a big tom leopard.
 

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Just for grins here are two cats taken behind hounds. This was one of the first hunts conducted when it opened.
GROD Leopard - 1.JPG
JWood Leopard - 1.JPG
 

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Leopard hunting with hounds is extremely effective. I don't remember the exact figures but when they opened leopard with dogs the numbers taken far exceeded expectations.

But there was a bit of protectionism going on as well, the numbers of foreign PH's / hounds men (non NAPHA members) coming into the country was growing and some of the native Namibian PH's were feeling threatened. The closure accomplished multiple things, the country felt they had a better handle on the cat numbers being taken, the funds remained in Namibia and the foreign PH's / hounds men went back to their home countries.

@Roy Sparks, I agree Namibia is still the best destination for a big tom leopard.

Welcome back Roy!!!
As far as a decision being made to stop hound hunting because it was conducted by predominantly non native hounds men...... Sorry don't believe it, that would not have been the motivation.

In the same breath we can say then that Namibia by law only allows day time hunting on leopard to ensure that only native Namibian PH's harvest leopard. (This in my opinion contributing to the fact that it could not be considered as the best location.)

Namibia is an awesome destination with great areas for leopard yes.,.. that is true..... But labeling it as the best... Well that's stretching the truth by more than a mile... :)
Ps.
I love the Khommas and use to enjoy hunting leopard there.

My best always!
 

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Welcome back Roy!!!
As far as a decision being made to stop hound hunting because it was conducted by predominantly non native hounds men...... Sorry don't believe it, that would not have been the motivation.

In the same breath we can say then that Namibia by law only allows day time hunting on leopard to ensure that only native Namibian PH's harvest leopard. (This in my opinion contributing to the fact that it could not be considered as the best location.)

Namibia is an awesome destination with great areas for leopard yes.,.. that is true..... But labeling it as the best... Well that's stretching the truth by more than a mile... :)
Ps.
I love the Khommas and use to enjoy hunting leopard there.

My best always!
Thanks Jaco. For me as a hound team owner and operator Namibia was certainly the best for these reasons.

1) There was no shortage of big male leopard if you did your part. And it was sustainable - still is.
2 ) Big properties that were user friendly for hound teams.
3 ) No tsetse flies that kill valuable hounds.
4 ) Excellent veterinary care.
5 ) Good medical facilities for people.
6 ) Sound infrastructure making logistics easier.
7 ) Plenty of good quality endemic game species for add on trophies.
8 ) Hardly any political unrest.
 

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Would love too hear the full story from NAPHA once they have some more clarity. Getting yourself and your client locked up, thats something else......

Seems that some of the outfitters really do show their clients the "Full African Experience";)
 

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Thanks Jaco. For me as a hound team owner and operator Namibia was certainly the best for these reasons.

1) There was no shortage of big male leopard if you did your part. And it was sustainable - still is.
2 ) Big properties that were user friendly for hound teams.
3 ) No tsetse flies that kill valuable hounds.
4 ) Excellent veterinary care.
5 ) Good medical facilities for people.
6 ) Sound infrastructure making logistics easier.
7 ) Plenty of good quality endemic game species for add on trophies.
8 ) Hardly any political unrest.

That makes more sense,....... I found the blanket statement a bit daring... especially from a purely bait hunted perspective...

My best always
 

Roy Sparks

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That makes more sense,....... I found the blanket statement a bit daring... especially from a purely bait hunted perspective...

My best always
Yes from the baiting side especially on ranched land I believe Namibian leopard hunting faces the same challenges as anywhere else. Diligent , skilled , hard working PH's using the baiting method are hard to come by and even then the baiting is very marginal in terms of success - that being based on the outcome of a trophy sized male being successfully harvested. Very challenging indeed.

However I still do believe that the industry is suffering as a result of banning of controlled use of specialist hound teams. Many stock farmers simply cannot afford to wait on the outcome of baiting as a remedy to their costly losses - which may never materialise effectively ! Therefore they will in desperation resort to " Old Measures " - very counter productive for all concerned including leopard welfare.

Even though it is legal to deal with problem leopard using hounds , it'' excludes '' the incentive of including a paying trophy hunter willing to hunt that specific problem leopard and pay for the opportunity. At least that specific problem leopard that is legally labelled / marked for destruction could have filled a CITES tag. Furthermore an effective remedy that is far quicker than baiting and more eco friendly than trapping or poison , if combined with a paying trophy hunter will go a long way to changing mindsets of stock farmers. In my experience a much greater level of tolerance toward leopard was exercised on all properties we hunted on using hound teams.
 
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Roy Sparks

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Leopard hunting with hounds is extremely effective. I don't remember the exact figures but when they opened leopard with dogs the numbers taken far exceeded expectations.

But there was a bit of protectionism going on as well, the numbers of foreign PH's / hounds men (non NAPHA members) coming into the country was growing and some of the native Namibian PH's were feeling threatened. The closure accomplished multiple things, the country felt they had a better handle on the cat numbers being taken, the funds remained in Namibia and the foreign PH's / hounds men went back to their home countries.

@Roy Sparks, I agree Namibia is still the best destination for a big tom leopard.
James I was a Napha member and attended several meetings on this subject. At one AGM Napha welcomed business interaction with outfitters from neighbouring countries in the spirit of free trade. Free trade between neighbouring states / parties in the industry should reasonably see that there is financial gain for all parties. All members of Napha are independent businessmen so realistically Napha should have no say over the members business engagements in terms of profit so long as the business being conducted is within the specifications of the law and of Ministry of Trade and Industry and MET.

As far as protectionism is concerned it was mostly internal conflict of Napha members putting the squeeze on blooming rival competition within their ranks that had more access to the foreign hound teams.

The money issue is a non starter argument and very unprofessional - if that was an argument from Napha ( I believe it was a popular reason ) - very undemocratic in my view.
 
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Rainer Ling

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An e-mail written to Mr. Sparks in January 2014

Dear Mr. Sparks,



NAPHA was very proactive and even convinced to give leopard hunting with hounds a fair chance – a trial period.

Why? At that very point in time it was an established fact that the population levels of both, the leopard and the cheetah, had not only recovered well in Namibia but had reached a density that caused more and more stock losses. We were desperately looking for internationally acceptable and ethical management “tools” to “manage “ these very high population levels - leopard hunting with hounds therefore seemed to be a very sensible supplementation to the traditional leopard hunting methods. There are very few other management “tools” that are acceptable- if any. If we would not find acceptable new utilisation methods, we would return to the indiscriminate killing and therewith wasting of this valuable natural resource, the leopard, by the very people, the farmers, who tolerated the leopards and who were the very people who were responsible for these unique conservation efforts and subsequent recovery in numbers in collaboration with the spotted cat foundations in Namibia.

Where and why did things go wrong ?

Right from the beginning this new hunting branch, the hounds men, was officially tasked and challenged by the NAPHA EXCO to develop and to impose on themselves transparent rules and regulations that would warrant a long term sustainable hunting with hounds. It is on record that the hounds men would be the architects of their own destiny. When it became obvious that out in the field many short cuts were taken, a special meeting was convened to once more tell the hounds men that they themselves were risking the future of this very new and promising enterprise.

A few reasons:

1. When law transgressions on a leopard hunts took place, the easiest way out for the involved hound master was just to say :<I am not the farmer, neither am I the PH or hunting outfitter, I am but merely a dog handler>- this was too easy to simply push away the responsibility and accountability.

2. You know that the leopard hunts with dogs lent itself to staged , canned leopard hunting. Suddenly the market value of alive leopards in a cage rose to N$ 20 000 and more. Leopards were transported on pick-ups throughout the country. We closed (at least )two hubs of canned leopard hunting , the participants in this detrimental hunting practice were also the hounds men- again it was just too easy for them to look to the other side.......... it was easy money. Was it shear coincidence that the hounds men involved were all Sa-cans???

3. Farm borders were crossed- again with the participation and the knowledge of the dog masters.

4. Leopards were poached – without consent and permission of the respective land owners- you personally were allegedly involved in two cases that I know of .

5. Suddenly foreign PH-es and their dog handlers flooded Namibia to make a quick buck. How can it be that a SA-can PH takes 19 leopards a year without having contributed to the conservation of leopards in the past and without having invested anything in this country- you also worked for that particular outfitter ! Just to put some figures to this calculation: 19 leopards x U$ 15 000 x N$ 8 = N$ 2,28 mil – not bad for no risk , no responsibility- this was blatant plundering of our natural resources.

6. More and more SA PH-es saw this gap, they recruited SA hound masters , contracted a few ignorant Namibian land owners and started a lucrative business.

The risk that these evil practices would ruin the reputation of Namibia as a reputable hunting destination was just too big. We were just demonstrated by the publication of the Cook report what detrimental impact the canned lion issue had on hunting in SA, in Africa and hunting world-wide . In Namibia we opted to react right in the beginning to discourage canned hunting in all its forms. Just look at the example in SA where the lion breeders became so influential that they succeeded to carry on with canned lion hunts- they just changed the terminology from canned hunting to hunting of captive bred lions.


We have to admit that our new leopard regulations are definitely not perfect and need meaningful adjustments.

However the distribution of tags on geographical grounds is much fairer system than the previous one which was exploited by scrupulous PH-es and the dog handlers ! The landowner is the person who tolerates and who suffers under the pressure of predators. He should be the one to decide to hunt or to let hunt the animals he took care of over sometimes decades - he should be the one who benefits from a meaningful trophy fee to partially compensate for the stock- and or game losses he sustained and that he was prepared to tolerate!

We do not want to keep any one out - come buy a farm in Namibia, invest, conserve, participate at our decision making process, and respect the laws of this country ! The decisions should and will be made in Namibia by Namibians and not somewhere at green tables in one of the metropolitans of the world. However if any a resolution is taken by means of a democratic vote, also the minority must accept this decision. This does not mean that any decision is irreversible, any situation or contributing factors might change.


Namibia initially had a CITES quota of 150 leopards annually. With the argument to make sensible provision for the “waste “ of indiscriminate killings by farmers of so-called “problem leopards”, Namibia was allowed an increased quota of 250 leopards annually. I do not have the total number of leopards utilized/killed in Namibia annually. Fact however is that much more leopards than our allocated CITES quota had always been killed in the past and are killed right at this point in time. The only hope is to gain another meaningful increase in CITES quota- this however is highly unlikely to happen as any increase in quota will only be granted based on a thorough, scientifically accepted leopard census . You should know , due to the behaviour of leopards , how difficult if not impossible such an action is.

Again come and help us to find answers and solutions- define and carry out that census- provide the scientific basis - this is the only slim chance that I see personally that the CITES quota for leopard could be increased for Namibia. Within the boundaries of the existing CITES quota of 250 leopards, I personally see but no chance and no room for leopard hunting with hounds now and in the future !


With best regards,


Rainer Ling
 

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I have to agree with James.

Rainer, again part of the problem was the money to be made off wildlife. And dogs don't respect property boundary, hard for a hound owner to control. But Rainer again just like in years past from other posters are blaming RSA for a Namibia problem. I remember those days too and plenty of Namibia outfitters were trying to do anything to make money off leopards.
 

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An e-mail written to Mr. Sparks in January 2014

Dear Mr. Sparks,



NAPHA was very proactive and even convinced to give leopard hunting with hounds a fair chance – a trial period.

Why? At that very point in time it was an established fact that the population levels of both, the leopard and the cheetah, had not only recovered well in Namibia but had reached a density that caused more and more stock losses. We were desperately looking for internationally acceptable and ethical management “tools” to “manage “ these very high population levels - leopard hunting with hounds therefore seemed to be a very sensible supplementation to the traditional leopard hunting methods. There are very few other management “tools” that are acceptable- if any. If we would not find acceptable new utilisation methods, we would return to the indiscriminate killing and therewith wasting of this valuable natural resource, the leopard, by the very people, the farmers, who tolerated the leopards and who were the very people who were responsible for these unique conservation efforts and subsequent recovery in numbers in collaboration with the spotted cat foundations in Namibia.

Where and why did things go wrong ?

Right from the beginning this new hunting branch, the hounds men, was officially tasked and challenged by the NAPHA EXCO to develop and to impose on themselves transparent rules and regulations that would warrant a long term sustainable hunting with hounds. It is on record that the hounds men would be the architects of their own destiny. When it became obvious that out in the field many short cuts were taken, a special meeting was convened to once more tell the hounds men that they themselves were risking the future of this very new and promising enterprise.

A few reasons:

1. When law transgressions on a leopard hunts took place, the easiest way out for the involved hound master was just to say :<I am not the farmer, neither am I the PH or hunting outfitter, I am but merely a dog handler>- this was too easy to simply push away the responsibility and accountability.

2. You know that the leopard hunts with dogs lent itself to staged , canned leopard hunting. Suddenly the market value of alive leopards in a cage rose to N$ 20 000 and more. Leopards were transported on pick-ups throughout the country. We closed (at least )two hubs of canned leopard hunting , the participants in this detrimental hunting practice were also the hounds men- again it was just too easy for them to look to the other side.......... it was easy money. Was it shear coincidence that the hounds men involved were all Sa-cans???

3. Farm borders were crossed- again with the participation and the knowledge of the dog masters.

4. Leopards were poached – without consent and permission of the respective land owners- you personally were allegedly involved in two cases that I know of .

5. Suddenly foreign PH-es and their dog handlers flooded Namibia to make a quick buck. How can it be that a SA-can PH takes 19 leopards a year without having contributed to the conservation of leopards in the past and without having invested anything in this country- you also worked for that particular outfitter ! Just to put some figures to this calculation: 19 leopards x U$ 15 000 x N$ 8 = N$ 2,28 mil – not bad for no risk , no responsibility- this was blatant plundering of our natural resources.

6. More and more SA PH-es saw this gap, they recruited SA hound masters , contracted a few ignorant Namibian land owners and started a lucrative business.

The risk that these evil practices would ruin the reputation of Namibia as a reputable hunting destination was just too big. We were just demonstrated by the publication of the Cook report what detrimental impact the canned lion issue had on hunting in SA, in Africa and hunting world-wide . In Namibia we opted to react right in the beginning to discourage canned hunting in all its forms. Just look at the example in SA where the lion breeders became so influential that they succeeded to carry on with canned lion hunts- they just changed the terminology from canned hunting to hunting of captive bred lions.


We have to admit that our new leopard regulations are definitely not perfect and need meaningful adjustments.

However the distribution of tags on geographical grounds is much fairer system than the previous one which was exploited by scrupulous PH-es and the dog handlers ! The landowner is the person who tolerates and who suffers under the pressure of predators. He should be the one to decide to hunt or to let hunt the animals he took care of over sometimes decades - he should be the one who benefits from a meaningful trophy fee to partially compensate for the stock- and or game losses he sustained and that he was prepared to tolerate!

We do not want to keep any one out - come buy a farm in Namibia, invest, conserve, participate at our decision making process, and respect the laws of this country ! The decisions should and will be made in Namibia by Namibians and not somewhere at green tables in one of the metropolitans of the world. However if any a resolution is taken by means of a democratic vote, also the minority must accept this decision. This does not mean that any decision is irreversible, any situation or contributing factors might change.


Namibia initially had a CITES quota of 150 leopards annually. With the argument to make sensible provision for the “waste “ of indiscriminate killings by farmers of so-called “problem leopards”, Namibia was allowed an increased quota of 250 leopards annually. I do not have the total number of leopards utilized/killed in Namibia annually. Fact however is that much more leopards than our allocated CITES quota had always been killed in the past and are killed right at this point in time. The only hope is to gain another meaningful increase in CITES quota- this however is highly unlikely to happen as any increase in quota will only be granted based on a thorough, scientifically accepted leopard census . You should know , due to the behaviour of leopards , how difficult if not impossible such an action is.

Again come and help us to find answers and solutions- define and carry out that census- provide the scientific basis - this is the only slim chance that I see personally that the CITES quota for leopard could be increased for Namibia. Within the boundaries of the existing CITES quota of 250 leopards, I personally see but no chance and no room for leopard hunting with hounds now and in the future !


With best regards,


Rainer Ling
 

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There was one other angle on this. Trapped leopards are easily used in the hound business. And I hasten to add, I do not believe that the majority of hound hunters were involved in the practice. But, cattlemen and cattle don't mix well with hungry leopards, and will deal with them however they must - to include lacing freshly killed calves with strychnine. The cats can also be trapped under such circumstances. Many ranchers have relationships with baiters such as Nick Nolte to respond with a client to problem cats. They are just as happy to have the animal trapped, and what a houndsman might do with it after that is not their concern. I know at least one high profile TV personality's hound driven cat had come off a ranch two days prior to his hunt. The ethical landmines are obvious.
 

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