South Africa begins leopard hunting ban

  • 26/01/2016

This year marks the beginning of a year-long ban of leopard hunting in South Africa, delighting conservation activists.

The Department of Environmental Affairs made the announcement on Monday (local time), adding that the ban will be reviewed at the end of the year.

The department says the decision follows recommendations from South Africa's scientific authority of intervention to save the leopard population, The Guardian reports.

Under previous policy, South Africa can give up to 150 permits each year for the trophy-hunting of leopards destined for export.

However, it is unknown how many leopards remain in South Africa, according to Guy Balme of environmental group Panthera.

"We just don't know how leopards are faring in South Africa. They're secretive, mainly nocturnal, solitary and range over huge areas," Mr Balme told The Guardian.

This is why conservation groups praise the decision, saying the ban is vital in protecting the species.

"It's important to ensure that any wildlife trade we do is sustainable," Kelly Marnewick from the Environmental Wildlife Trust says.

"If we can't do that, it's highly problematic. We need a trade ban until we can get to that."

Hunting provides around US$375 million for South Africa each year according to the Environment Ministry.

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