The Future of the African Leopard in Zambia

June 17, 2015 admin Uncategorized

Africa is home to an enormous number of wild animals, many of which are classified as being endangered, or at risk of endangerment. This is something which concerns a lot of people, including wildlife conservation enthusiast, Tunde Folawiyo. Tunde regularly updates his Twitter account with the latest developments on animal conservation efforts, sharing both his own and other people’s thoughts on this topic. Recently, he used this platform to discuss the plight of the African Leopard, one of the continent’s most elusive big cats. This nocturnal carnivore, which can usually be found in riverine forests and rocky landscapes, is known for its adaptability, and can live quite contentedly in both cold and warm climates. As such, unlike many other species, its biggest threat is not habitat loss or environmental issues, but rather humans – or more specifically, hunters.

Now classified as being ‘near threatened’, the African leopard population could possibly decline even further over the coming years, due to Zambian government’s recent decision to lift the ban on hunting leopards and lions which reside in this country. It has been reported that this move was the result of the government’s need for foreign currency from hunters; this money will then be used to fund projects related to wildlife conservation.

Trophy hunting is an extremely profitable industry; hunters typically pay about £15,000 for a permit to shoot lions. Nyambe Nyambe, the current World Wildlife Fund director, explained that the lifting of the ban had come after research by experts found that hunting would be financially beneficial for communities in affected areas. The tourism and arts minister, Jean Kapata, added that they would be adopting the regulatory methods and hunting guidelines which are currently in place in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, in order to ensure that hunting is carried out responsibly.

However, Zambia’s Green Party have criticised the decision, with Peter Sinkamba arguing that the population of leopards and lions in the country’s major parks have already been dramatically depleted as a result of human interference. It has also been noted that trophy hunting of either male or female African leopards can have a hugely negative impact on the remaining leap; the shooting of females impacts birth rates and therefore overall population numbers, whilst the hunting of male leopards can lead to infanticide, as cubs are then left without protection, and are therefore often killed by foreign males. Hopefully, the regulatory methods which are to be employed by the Zambian government will take these points into consideration, and ensure that the African leopard population does not suffer too greatly as a result of the rescinding of the hunting ban.

African Leopardendangered animalsTunde FolawiyoZambia

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