Leopard Hunting: Operator Survey

Much of leopard range in South Africa extends beyond the borders of protected areas. Leopards are only likely to be tolerated in these areas if their economic value exceeds their real or perceived cost. Commercial trophy hunting provides one alternative of achieving this. We are trying to collect data to demonstrate the role that trophy hunting plays in leopard conservation and to help guide the decision-making process.

All information in this survey will remain strictly confidential. If you have further comments or feel there needs to be any additional questions on the survey, please add it on.

Assessment of sport hunted lion and leopard trophies:

Guidelines for data collection Sport hunting is an industry that requires careful regulation and a high degree of compliance with “best practice” standards to ensure it is sustainable. This is particularly important for large carnivore species such as lion and leopard that have recently suffered widespread declines and are sensitive to human disturbance. There is a need to standardize data collected from lion and leopard trophies across their range to allow independent assessment of trophy age, trophy quality, and hunt effort. Such data can enable wildlife agencies to track population trends of hunted species over time and react to changes accordingly. The biological impacts of hunting will also differ depending on the sex and age of harvested individuals, and must therefore be monitored closely. In addition, blood and skin samples can easily be taken from trophies to provide valuable information on disease and genetics in wild lion and leopard populations. These data would add immeasurably to conservation efforts.

Effective monitoring requires collaboration between professional hunters, operators, conservation authorities, and researchers. In this document we provide guidelines on the information and measurements that should routinely be taken from every trophy animal. Some of the information is collected in the field by the professional hunter immediately after the hunt, while other data are collected at a later date by examining the cleaned skull. It requires no technical ability or special equipment other than a GPS, digital camera, and measuring tape; all of which are commonly used by sport hunters. Please access the full Protocol Document here.

Please access these links below for all the relevant documents and email it to:

Leopard Aging Test
Leopard Aging Test answer sheet

Lion age training resources

I’d like to share a new resource for improving hunters’ skills in aging African lions: This website includes a training, self-test, photo gallery and quick-reference pocket guides to help hunters become more familiar with the best physical characteristics for estimating a lion’s age. The website also provides some background information on lion biology and on the biological basis for restricting harvests to old lions.

In addition to the site, we’ve developed presentation sides which consist of a lion aging training and self-test (for participants to measure their ‘lion aging score’ before and after the training to track their improvement). The presentation is ideal for training professional hunters and guides and for educating clients on how to age lions. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this presentation.

We hope your organization finds these resources useful. Please feel free to distribute the website freely to your colleagues and clients. If you have any suggestions on how this presentation/website might be improved, feel free to let us know.

Please write to if you have any questions.

Paula A. White, PhD
Director, Zambia Lion Project
Center for Tropical Research
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
University of California, Los Angeles USA

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