Poor leopards. Who fights in their corner? Not very many. Let me give you some facts about why we should be concerned about Africa’ second largest cat:
1. Nobody knows how many leopards there are in Africa. Some vague and unsupportable statistics say about 70,000 on the whole continent.
2. This would mean there are about 4.6 times as many leopards as lions in Africa.
3. Yet leopards (not lions) are listed by CITES under their Appendix I (highly controlled trade), but nobody seems to be concerned about leopard trophy hunting and skin exports. Supposedly carefully regulated by CITES with “quotas”, trade records show that across Africa during 2008-2012 1,223 skins and 5,256 hunting trophies were exported from ten countries. Tanzania and Zimbabwe lead the pack.
4. All hunting trophies from all countries are limited to adult males. Such animals only make up about 10-15% of the total population. Do the maths – is leopard hunting sustainable? Hint – no.
5. Despite a recent moratorium in Zambia, where there was supposed to be an assessment of leopard numbers before hunting was re-opened, such precautions were ignored. The first leopard of 2015 has already been hunted. The Zambian Minister of Tourism and Arts said that she had established that Zambia has 8,000 leopards by areial surveys. It is impossible to count leopards (or lions) from the air and this method has been rejected by all competent wildlife biologists as a valid survey technology.
Too many species falling through the cracks of trade. But we must all keep watch and pay attention – CITES is not our friend on these matters.
Picture credit: www.kilimanjarorifles.com