For immediate release
“ZERO QUOTA A HUGE MISTAKE” – PROFESSIONAL HUNTERS SA
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) today said they are “profoundly disappointed” in the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) decision to extend the zero quota for the hunting of leopard to 2017.
The zero quota has been in place since January 2016.
“To the best of our knowledge, there is currently no reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the zero quota for the second consecutive year,” says Tharia Unwin, chief executive officer, PHASA.
DEA’s statistics for 2015 show a legal offtake of only 42, 37 and 36 leopards during 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. “This is far less than the approved CITES and national quotas and speaks of good selective and sustainable hunting practices,” says Unwin.
“Given the above, it is our humble submission that the total number of leopards taken is probably less than 1% of the country’s leopard populations, if the latter is very conservatively estimated at 5 000 leopards,” she adds.
“The legal offtake of leopard is not the problem. On the contrary, without any legal offtake, there is no incentive for landowners to tolerate predators preying on small game or livestock and this results in indiscriminate poisoning, trapping and illegal shooting, ” she explains.
“The loss of leopards in the wild due to illegal offtake and poaching for cultural and religious ceremonies, far outweighs the loss of foreign income derived from the historically low legal offtakes. This is an ongoing concern and simply cannot be denied,” says Unwin.
PHASA is deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of the extension.
“We support the DEA in their quest to gather unbiased scientific information and acknowledge that draft Leopard Norms and Standards and Damage Causing Animal regulations are in the pipeline, as negotiated between DEA, scientists and the private sector during 2016. The private sector is also embarking on its own independent research.