Trophy Hunting Can Help African Conservation, Study Says

August 27, 2013 in African Safaris, Conservation, hunter, Hunting Ethics, Hunting trophies, Nambia, South Africa, Sport Hunting by Hunting Legends

 Hunting Legends


John Pickrell for National Geographic News
March 15, 2007

Trophy hunting can play an essential role in the conservation of African wildlife, according to a growing number of biologists. Now some experts are calling for a program to regulate Africa’s sport-hunting industry to ensure its conservation benefits.

According to a recent study, in the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting, 18,500 tourists pay over $200 million (U.S.) a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos.

Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, the study also found. That’s 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks. As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, some conservationists are arguing that they can garner more effective results by working with hunters and taking a hand in regulating the industry.

Sport hunting can be sustainable if carefully managed, said Peter Lindsey, a conservation biologist with the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, who led the recent study. “Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas,” he said. In an upcoming edition of the journal Conservation Biology Lindsey and an international team of colleagues call for a plan to increase the conservation benefits of sport hunting, including a certification program to more tightly regulate the industry.

“To justify the continued existence of [protected] areas in the context of increasing demand for land, wildlife has to pay for itself and contribute to the economy, and hunting provides an important means of achieving this,” Lindsey said. Hunting’s Checkered Past In order to be certified under Lindsey’s proposed plan, hunting operations would have to prove their commitment to animal welfare, careful management of hunting quotas, wide-ranging conservation objectives, and the development of local communities. “The time has come for greater scrutiny from scientists to promote maximum conservation benefits from hunting,” Lindsey said.

“There should also be a greater effort from the hunting industry to self-regulate and ensure that unscrupulous elements are weeded out.” Trophy hunting has a bad reputation in the developed world, due in part to indiscriminate hunting by early European settlers, Lindsey observed.



Reckless hunting resulted in the extinction of species such as the quagga (a cousin of the zebra) and led to the massive decline of others, including the elephant and black rhinoceros.

But hunting has also been credited with facilitating the recovery of species, Lindsey’s team argues in its paper. The southern white rhinoceros grew from just 50 animals a century ago to over 11,000 wild individuals today, because hunts gave game ranchers a financial incentive to reintroduce the animal, the authors write.

Trophy hunting has also driven the reintroduction of cape mountain zebra and black wildebeest in South Africa, Lindsey said. Hunters typically take just 2 to 5 percent of males annually from hunted animal populations, he added, which has a negligible effect on the populations’ reproductive health. Opposition Remains Many animal rights groups remain fundamentally opposed to killing animals for sport.

“The idea of trophy hunting as a conservation method is an extremely tricky and contentious issue that generates disparate views from people all of whom claim to want the best for animals,” said Marc Bekoff a behavioral ecologist at the University of Colorado in Boulder and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals. Bekoff said that while the certification program is a good idea, he has difficulty believing it could work well in practice, because the bureaucracies involved in such regulation would be complex.

“It’s hard to believe that the situation has reached the point where killing is the best way to conserve,” he said. “There have to be more humane alternatives.” In late February South Africa announced long-awaited legislation against so-called canned hunting, in which animals are shot in cages or are tranquilized and released shortly before being gunned down. The ban will take effect June 1 under a law that also bans hunting with bows and arrows.

Please share your thoughts and comments with us on this paper, by submitting your comments below. Real Africa Safari Holdings is proud of our role we play in conservation, and believe that we as professional, and ethical hunters have made a huge impact on conserving wildlife in the area’s we manage – for generations to come.

Bargain Hunts in Africa – Click here to open page

August 27, 2013 in African Safaris, Gunroom, hunter, Hunting trophies by Hunting Legends

Hunting Legends

Thank you visiting our website, we look  forward to hosting you in Africa soon and guarantee you of an adventure of a lifetime!

We have several bargain hunts at any given stage in Africa, and can offer you a full seven day hunt for less than US$10000 all inclusive:

To qualify for our bargain hunts, please visit our contact page:

  1. Submit your info and request “bargain hunts”
  2. The moment we receive your submission, we will contact you and tailor your hunt for you, it’s that simple.
  3. Hunting in Africa is a lot cheaper and more affordable than most people would like to believe.
  4. The US$ currency is currently very strong against our own currencies and we can thus put together very affordable pakages for you. All it takes is one simple NO OBLIGATION ENQUIRY!
  5. Don’t miss out on the ‘hunting adventure’ of a life time – CONTACT US TODAY for your special deal.
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We look forward to hearing from you and God bless!

Hunters and Johannesburg International Airport

August 27, 2013 in African Safaris, Firearms, Gunroom, hunter, Hunting Help, Hunting trophies, Legal protection, South Africa by Hunting Legends

Johannesburg International Airport and foreign hunters: Some good news:

Ever since the implementation of the new Firearms Act on 1 July 2004, professional hunters and outfitters have been complaining bitterly about the services rendered by the police at Johannesburg International Airport. Delays varying between one to five hours reputedly occur on a regular basis. Many foreign hunters from America and Europe have indicated that they will not visit South Africa again because of these delays with firearm documentation at Johannesburg International Airport.

The South African Police Service has therefore launched a new incentive at Johannesburg International to ensure from their side that South Africa retains its position as a prime hunting destination. Working very closely with Commissioner Mawela, Superintendent Malepa, as the commander of the firearm office of this Airport, has managed to secure a new area in the main building and specifically in the terminal 1 designated area.

A spacious firearm office in the terminal 1 area has just been completed. Within this area or office special safe-keeping facilities have also been established. The basic procedure for the arrival of hunting weapons from any country will be as follows: Firearms will be removed from the aircraft by security and brought to the firearm office via a special reception section in the firearm office. There the firearms will be kept under lock and key.

The hunter on the other hand will first go through emigration, then collect his/her luggage, proceed through customs and then move on to terminal 1 and the firearm office. There the hunter will be issued with his/her firearms after a check to ensure that the serial numbers and make correlate with the personal data of the hunter. The final step is the issuing of the SAP 525 or temporary import permit.

Documents required from the hunter are: copies of his/her passport, the air ticket issued by the airline as well as any document which verifies the firearms as being the property of the hunter from his/her country of origin. The letter of invitation from the outfitter to the client prior to the hunt is also essential.

As a token of their support for the new incentive from the South African Police Service, African Outfitter has donated couches, a coffee machine as well as a DVD player and TV for this area. The sole purpose of this donation is to make the foreign hunter feel at home right at the airport.

Outfitters and professional hunters are invited to supply African Outfitter with photos and videos of hunts to enable them to compile a promotional DVD on South Africa as a hunting destination. This DVD will be played 24/7 in this new comfortable reception area.

After meetings with Commissioner Mawela, Superintendent Malepa, Inspector Mothapo, Mr Shadrack Moletsane and Captain Roeloffse, African Outfitter staff left the Johannesburg International Airport convinced that these people are totally dedicated to rendering a highly efficient service to overseas clients in future.

In fact, Superintendent Malepa vowed that no foreign hunters would ever be delayed again, which in the past has resulted in hunters missing a connecting flight.

Please leave us your comments, by clicking on the comment button below.

God bless you and your family, and we hope to host you in Africa soon!

Hunting Legends

Sport Hunting in Africa

August 27, 2013 in Firearms, Gunroom, hunter, Hunting Ethics, Hunting trophies, Sport Hunting by Hunting Legends

Hunting Legends

“Sport hunting in the Southern African Development Community”

Sport hunting in the Southern African Development Community (SADC): An Overview


Most of the countries making up the South African Development Community (SADC) are classified as ‘developing’ nations and are characterised by high population growth, limited industrial and tertiary industry, high unemployment, and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita that is well below the poverty level. These countries are, however, blessed with an abundant natural resource base, including (in most cases) a dynamic wildlife sector. In fact, wildlife- based land use and industry offers real potential throughout the region as a viable development option, especially for rural communities with few other competitive advantages in today’s globalised world.

Traditionally, Africa’s natural resources were used to support the livelihoods of rural people throughout the region. Wildlife benefits accrued either directly in the form of meat and hides or, more recently, indirectly through eco-tourism ventures or photographic safaris. Unfortunately, the legacy of colonialism, which introduced socially unacceptable wildlife policy and land tenure regulations, still prevents many local people from benefiting from the natural resources around them, yet expects them to accept any negative consequences without question. Growing human populations and a host of development pressures, however, have resulted in many people resorting to methods considered illegal by the government when accessing the natural resource base around them.

Within the SADC region, governments have increasingly come to realise that without the support of local communities, conservation efforts are bound to fail. In the absence of benefits, people living in poverty are unwilling and unable to look after natural resources wisely. In some cases, governments have initiated processes to transfer ownership of wildlife, land use rights and decision-making responsibilities to local communities. The majority of such programmes have involved the integration of wildlife with other land use options, such as crop and livestock production. This strategy has allowed for multiple uses and the generation of maximum revenues. For example, the rights to utilize certain animals could firstly be ‘sold’ for photographic safaris or wildlife viewing, secondly to a hunter as a trophy or for biltong and, thirdly, its meat and/or hide could be sold or utilised by local communities. Significant successes have been achieved through such initiatives with multiplier effects, especially where sport hunting is a feature in the equation.

Sport hunting is the hunting of an animal, generally by a foreign tourist, for its trophy value. Throughout the region, such hunters typically come from the USA or Europe. As sport hunting is primarily motivated by the thrill of the hunt and the subsequent acquisition of a take-away trophy, it can be carried out on land that is less scenic than that demanded for wildlife tourism. Further, the standard of accommodation and other infrastructure offerings can usually be far more ‘rustic’ in keeping with the less intrusive requirements of a rugged ‘bush’ experience. This allows for a greater diversity of land to be set aside for wildlife-based industries.

Consequently, in 2000, southern Africa offered some 420,000 km2 of communal land, 188,000 km2 of commercial land, and 420,089 km2 of state land for sport hunting purposes. And finally, sport hunters are also less influenced by political events than other tourists, allowing for greater reliability in terms of sustaining constant revenue generation.

Although sport hunting has the potential to raise significant sums of foreign income for a country, like anything else that involves money, the industry can be subject to abuse, corruption and mismanagement. In Africa, the very low salaries paid to wildlife personnel and the lack of transparent and accountable oversight processes exacerbate this vulnerability. While individual countries strive to assume a competitive advantage and fulfil a unique niche in terms of the species on offer, competition within the industry can be intense. In fact, there are usually a large number of potential operators but a limited number of hunting concessions available. The demand for good quality trophies increases the pressure on hunting operators to secure productive hunting concessions. The methods used to secure such concessions and to hunt suitable trophy animals can go beyond what is considered ethical, for example so-called canned hunts have become common in South Africa raising concerns over the principle of fair-chase. Similarly the practice of breeding colour varieties, translocating game to areas outside of their natural distribution, and cross-breeding species is also practices by some game farm owners. On occasion, corrupt or unsustainable practices have led to the temporary or permanent closure of the industry in certain countries, for example Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. Indeed, international and national critics of sport hunting, especially individuals or groups that are philosophically or fundamentally opposed to all forms of sport hunting, point to ethical lapses or corrupt practices to discredit the industry as a whole.

In 1999, TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa was contracted under the USAID-funded Network and Capacity Building Programme (NETCAB) to conduct an overview assessment of the sport hunting industry in the SADC region. The two- year project transpired at a time when many pressing issues were impacting on the industry, including the recent imposition of sport hunting bans in some countries, the withdrawal of predator quotas in others, experimentation with the transfer of management structures to community-based institutions, and continuing problems with monitoring, administration, quota setting and land tenure issues. The project aimed to document and assess the experiences of various countries with a view towards developing generic ‘best practice’ guidelines that could serve as a regional model to underpin and safeguard the industry in the future.

The project aims were achieved through a comprehensive assessment of the parameters, dynamics and status of the sport hunting industries in five SADC countries namely, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. These five target nations constitute the main sport hunting countries in the region, and all have long, if not unique, histories in terms of sport hunting policy and management experience. The study was underpinned by a comprehensive review of available literature and in-country field research and consultation with key stakeholders throughout the region.

To present the principal findings of this assessment and to provide a forum with which to share the management experiences of various countries, TRAFFIC organised a “Sport Hunting in the SADC Region” workshop in 2001. Attended by key stakeholders from government, industry and conservation organisations in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, a first attempt to develop ‘best practice’ guidelines for the sport hunting industry was attempted. It is worth noting that Mozambique and Zambia were not part of the TRAFFIC assessment, but both countries are now engaged in the development of sport hunting industries. This effort clearly benefited from the experiences, successes, failures and lessons learned from key players throughout the SADC region. The outputs of the workshop included:

– a summary of the main issues and constraints facing each of the seven countries with sport hunting industries;

– a discussion of key management themes such as monitoring, administration and quota setting;

– the first-cut development of “best practice” guidelines; and,

– a strategy for catalysing the implementation of country-specific action orientated solutions.

The importance of the game industry to the economies of some countries is phenomenal, particularly when non- consumptive (i.e. wildlife viewing) and consumptive (sport hunting, licensed resident hunting) are taken into account. For example, in the latter 1990s, Zimbabwe raised some USD254 million through sport hunting, followed by South Africa at USD140 million and Tanzania at USD100 million (Barnes, 1996; ZTA, 2001). In some instances, this contributed significantly to the GDP of certain countries, for example, sport hunting revenue in Zimbabwe contributed some 8% to the country’s GDP (ZCSO, 2000). In some countries, this income is expected to increase in the near future, possibly even double, even in the absence of government grants (Bond, 1997).

With annual revenues of USD29.9 million in Tanzania, USD28.4 million in South Africa, USD23.9 million in Zimbabwe, USD12.6 million in Botswana and USD11.5 million in Namibia during the late 1990s, sport hunting is responsible for a large component of economic growth. Initially, most sport hunting revenue accrued to government and private landowners, however, more recently, an increasing proportion of such revenues has been apportioned between these two sectors and local communities.

The anticipated growth of the sport hunting industry relies on several factors, namely the diversity of species on offer, the quality of trophy animals available and the quality of professional hunters and associated tourism services (Jackson, 1995). In 2001, South Africa was the only country that offered the ‘big five’ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard – as huntable species, but Tanzania was regarded as the most scenically beautiful destination with record-winning lion, leopard and buffalo trophies. Alternatively, Namibia offered the most cost-effective hunting of plains game and some unique endemic species, while Botswana and Zimbabwe consistently supplied the best quality elephant trophies. Accordingly, each country had something unique to market to potential hunters from around the world.

To remain lucrative, the management of the sport hunting industry should focus upon realising maximum conservation, economic and social benefits from the hunting resource, while ensuring good governance and accountability. Management protocols vary from country to country with differing emphasis on private, community and governmental management structures. The function of these structures is to ensure that standards are maintained, and that monitoring and administrative systems are robust and operative so that informed management decisions can be consistently made. The following ‘best practice’ guidelines are suggested:

1. Maintaining Quality and Standards of the Sport Hunting Industry

  • Minimum trophy quality sizes and standards determined – The lack of long-term tenure security over many hunting concessions has prompted unsustainable over-hunting of certain lucrative species, resulting in inferior trophy quality animals, especially in State and communal land concession areas. Where they do not exist, trophy quality sizes and standards need to be established.
  • Wildlife hunting regulations enacted and enforced – The ability of countries to enforce regulations developed to maintain the sustainability of hunting, and to set standards for ethical hunting, differs widely. The use of community based natural resource management (CBNRM) programs which provide incentive for community game scouts to accompany hunting safaris should be encouraged. Canned and put-and-take hunting practices should be condemned.
  • Professional hunting associations formed – Each country should ensure that a national hunting association exists and is empowered to promote ethical hunting and professional standards of hunters in a standardised manner throughout the SADC region.
  • Professional hunting training courses held – Sport hunting training courses should be a feature in each country to provide opportunities to citizen hunters to gain the experience necessary to become professional hunters and improve individual hunting skills.
  • Professional hunter standards established – Conforming to a regional minimum standard, each country should establish professional hunter standards through comprehensive programmes offering both theoretical and practical examinations. Hunters that pass these examinations and successfully serve an apprenticeship should become registered with the national hunting association and government before being allowed to conduct hunts professionally.

2. Monitoring and Administration of the Sport Hunting Industry

  • Monitoring systems developed and implemented – The information and data generated through sport hunting needs to be part of an active monitoring system. Such a system should feature routine and effective analysis of available data to ensure that subsequent management decisions are informed, as well as provide timely feedback for adaptive management purposes.
  • Data collection forms standardised – To support the monitoring systems, data reporting formats should be simple, clear and streamlined to facilitate the collection of data from key stakeholders. These forms should include financial and biological information necessary for the effective management of the sport hunting industry at the national level. If possible, where different government departments have data collection requirements, an attempt should be made to streamline everything into a single, all encompassing form. Standardisation at the SADC level is an option that should be explored thoughtfully.
  • Hunt return registers submitted – Hunt return forms are an essential component of any effective monitoring system by providing data on a range of important issues, such as effort vs. success rates, the quality of trophies and off- take rates. An effective means to ensure that hunt return information is regularly submitted is to require proof of submission as the basis for applications for trophy export permits. Similarly, compliance with hunt return regulations should form part of the requirement for renewing hunting permits and licences.

3. Quota Setting

  • Quota setting processes and procedures established – The process and procedure for establishing annual hunting quotas should be clearly delineated, transparent and accountable. There may be different policies or procedures for different species or industry stakeholders (private landowners, communal land areas or government concessions), but in all cases quota setting requirements should be established according to a set procedure and under some kind of supervisory control by central government but involving key stakeholders.
  • Compliance with CITES demonstrated – CITES is the world’s leading policy instrument for international trade in wildlife. From time to time, through collaborative discussion and agreement at its Conference of Parties, quotas are established for certain species, including specific reference to sport hunted trophies. Compliance with these, and all other CITES requirements, should be implemented at the national level.
  • Management capacity demonstrated – There is a need to ensure that viable and demonstrable management capacity exists for each hunting concession area. This requirement is especially important in instances whereby private sector concession owners are allowed to set and approve their own quotas for hunted animals and have ownership rights over their own resources.
  • Information and data collected and analysed – To set quotas effectively, there is a need to use various sources of information and data, including indices such as population size, status and trends, sex ratios, frequency of sightings, problem animal control records, catch effort and trophy quality (i.e. size). Using information and data relevant to a specified hunting block or concession is a vital part of ensuring sustainability in the long-term, and realising critical engagement and buy-in from stakeholders.
  • Information sources agreed and standardised – The type of information and information sources required for quota setting should be standardised to the extent possible. For example, aerial or ground surveys, catch effort and trophy quality data, and anecdotal information may all be used to triangulate the most reliable indication of population trends and then be used adaptively to determine the quota.
  • Monitoring systems established – Monitoring systems should collate critical data and information necessary for effective quota setting. These data should include past hunting off-take records, aerial and/or ground population census data, trophy quality, and financial and biological indicators.
  • Trophy quality data recorded and analysed – Trophy quality is an excellent indicator of population status. It should be a requirement in the quota setting process that such data is available, analysed and used proactively in the context of adaptive management practices.
  • Quota approval necessary – Once management capacity is established, the responsibility to approve quotas should be clearly established. Where land use rights devolve wildlife management responsibilities to land holders in private and communal lands, government oversight and approval procedures need to be clearly established.

4. Maximising Economic and Social Benefits from the Sport Hunting Industry

  • Transparent mechanism for allocation of hunting concessions adopted – Failure to adopt a transparent and fully accountable process for the allocation of hunting concessions in government or communal land areas inevitably invites allegations of corruption, cronyism or mismanagement. Concession tender processes should allow for a high degree of competition between safari operators and be designed to ensure maximum financial benefit to public landowners, foreclosing on any potential for ‘back door’ arrangements or deals that end up rewarding individuals rather than government and/or communal stakeholders. Open tender processes and public auctions have been used successfully in different countries in the region and should be encouraged.
  • Screening criteria for hunting operators developed and used – To ensure that potential sport hunting operators are well-qualified to finance and conduct professional hunting operations, and that they will adhere to ethical hunting practices, a series of screening criteria should be applied to all applicants who seek allocation of a concession. Application of both technical and financial criteria would necessarily make certain players ineligible for consideration from time to time. Screening practices should ensure that individuals who have violated rules and regulations in the past no longer are eligible for licenses to operate.
  • Annual reporting and accounting of revenues practised – Good governance practises should require that financial transactions, especially those involving government and communal landowners and which become part of public sector budgets, be subject to appropriate audit oversight and public scrutiny to ensure accountability.
  • Hunting packages marketed effectively – The composition of species and the duration of each hunting package is instrumental in providing a balanced hunt that maximises revenues and client satisfaction.
  • Government hunting fees revised periodically – Fees should be established according to the open market value of trophy animals and revised from time to time to ensure maximum revenue.
  • Hunting tenures set – The length of time that individual hunting concessions are held and the security associated with such tenure has a direct bearing on the amount safari operators are willing to invest in the protection of the concession and the development of CBNRM programmes. Long-term tenure commitments should be encouraged to promote maximum investment in the resource base and local communities.
  • Revenue retention – The allocation of revenues to those who own the hunting resource should be promoted with a requirement that a proportion of revenue should be banked in-country.

The region’s sport hunting industry, and its ability to contribute to the development of local communities, is sensitive to a number of factors. For example, political instability, social unrest or crime can influence tourism negatively. In such situations, sport hunting suffers to a lesser extent than other forms of tourism, however, security concerns or debilitating annoyances such as chronic fuel shortages are nonetheless negative factors impacting on the industry. Events beyond the control of the region can also seriously impede the viability of sport hunting. For example, restrictive legislation in the country of residence of potential hunters can result in import bans on certain species, leading to major revenue losses in countries that offer the same species as part of managed sport hunting programme. Furthermore, adverse publicity from anti-hunting lobbies also affects the sport hunting industry and has the ability to retard the development of the industry.

In the ‘best case’ scenarios, sport hunting is an important industry that underpins the conservation of species and their habitats as viable land uses which contribute to the livelihoods of many people and the national economies of sport hunting countries. Benefits from this industry are increasingly being distributed to rural poor through CBNRM programmes and those communities are showing a greater commitment to the conservation of wildlife. On the other hand, the management of the industry is, in some cases, still poor and open to abuse and corruption. Transparency is needed in the allocation of concessions and in the setting of hunting quotas, and instances of unethical hunting practices need to be eliminated. In order to achieve effective, sustainable and lucrative hunting industries in the SADC region, considerable effort is still needed from both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. Drawing upon the lessons from the region and implementing ‘best practice’ guidelines is an important step to ensure the long-term viability of the sport hunting industry at a time of increasing global oversight and accountability.


August 27, 2013 in Hunting Ethics, Hunting trophies, Records, South Africa by Hunting Legends


If you’re looking for that once in a life time Leopard hunt, then let Hunting Legends provide you with just that experience.

Hunting Legends has developed a reputation for putting our clients on the money with excellent quality Leopards taken every year. However, as you may know there are very limited tags (permits) issued for Leopards and it is important that you book well in advance.

For more information or a FREE NO OBLIGATION QUOTE, contact Hunting Legends today:


KINGS of African tribes wear cloaks of leopard skin as these beautiful animals are a symbol of power. It is known for its ferocity and, after the Cape Buffalo, is the second most dangerous animal in Africa.

Resources however indicate that Hippo are the biggest killers, this is however not due to their ferocity, however due to the fact that humans often end up coming between Hippos and their water pools – a recipe for disaster. Leopards however, are dangerous predators, and have the widest distribution of all wild cats and is found throughout the continent of Africa, Asia, and in the Far East.

Its name is derived from the Greek word leopardo after leo for lion and pardus for panther. TAXONOMY The leopard was first described as Felis pardus by Linneaeus in 1758. In 1930, TI Pocock renamed it Panthera pardus, distinguishing it from the non-roaring cats. It belongs to the family Felidae, order Carnivora, class Mammalia. Initially, some 27 sub species were named, of which 13 occurred in Africa. More recently, this number was reduced to eight but serious controversy led to the suggestion in 1995, of classing all African Leopards into a single subspecies Panthera pardus pardus.

DISTRIBUTION Except for the Namibian and Saharan deserts, leopards are found across the entire African continent. They have a high level of adaptability and live in a variety of habitats ranging from sea level to over 5000m. It is one of few of the larger mammal species remaining in the neighbourhood of human developments, such as the environs of Cape Town and Nairobi.

DESCRIPTION The leopard has a typical cat-like profile with a powerful, muscular body, relatively short legs and a very long tail. The pelageis covered with a series of black rosette spots. The background colour, which is a light tan to golden yellow, varies depending on the habitat, which has led to considerable taxonomic confusion and debate. Individuals can be identified by the pattern of the rosettes, especially those around the neck. Adult males have a mean live body mass of 135 pounds and females around 70 pounds.

We have however seen much larger animals than this hunted over the past few years, only recently one of our clients shot a leopard male in excess of 200 pounds. Here is an example of a big cat shot with us recently during the 2008 Namibia Hunting season:


Phillip(8)The mean shoulder height of males is 27.6 inches and of females 23.6 inches. A male can reach a total body length, from the nostril to the tip of the tail, of 115 inches and bigger. They have five toes on the front paw, of which only four are printed in the spoor, and four toes on the hind paw. Both prints lack claw marks as the powerful claws retract fully into the nail beds. Claws are 1.2 inches long. Trophies are measured by combining the maximum width of the skull and the maximum length.

HABITAT REQUIREMENT Habitats are almost unlimited, ranging from wet tropical forest to bushveld, thickets, savanna, grassland, highveld, marshland, fynbos, Karoo shrub land and semi-arid deserts. Leopards are found in areas as diverse as plains and beaches, and on mountains as high as the snowline. The only habitat totally avoided is the Namibian and Sahara deserts. The suitability of of a habitat is determined by the availability and abundance of prey and the accessibility of terrain for stalking. Tall grass, bushes and rocks provide camouflage for successful kills. Leopards tend to favour rocky areas and hills, kloofs and riverine areas. They occur at an annual rainfall of between 4 inches and 80 inches, are dependent of surface water and can survive in semi-arid environments, such as the Kalahari.

BEHAVIOUR Leopards are primarily nocturnal and kill mostly at night; they hunt alone. When stalking, a leopard crawls up to the prey to a distance of between 13 and 23 feet. It then leaps forward onto the animal with lightening speed, aiming for the neck but usually landing on the shoulders. The momentum of the leap mostly knocks the prey off its feet and the cat rolls over it and attempts to rip out its throat. Smaller antelope are often killed by biting through the back of the skull. Leopards do not chase prey and only 20% of stalking attempts are successful.

Once killed, the carcass is protected from scavengers by dragging it into thicket, or by hoisting it into a tree; a carcass up to twice the leopards mass can be lifted with ease. It will return repeatedly, for up to six days, to feed on the hidden carcass. Hunting success relies mainly on an extremely well-developed sense of sight and hearing while scent is of little importance. During hot daylight hours leopards rest in dense cover, between rocks, in caves, old burrows or high up on the branch of a tree. In early mornings they tend to lie and view their surroundings from sunny spots on rocks or river banks.

They are excellent swimmers and do not hesitate to enter water. One leopard was seen crossing 900 yards of open water between islands on Lake Kariba. In bushveld terrain, leopards rarely move more than 4 miles per night. Stander measured an average daily travelling distance of 7 miles in the dry savannah of Namibia. Up to 18 miles have been recorded in the Kalahari. Movement is not continuous but consists of a series of short distances of up to 250 yards. Leopards are vicious when aggravated, short tempered and constantly ready for a fight. Attempts to follow a leopard on foot are very dangerous and the uttermost caution is essential. Once the cat realises a human is in pursuit, it often circles back on its tracks, selects an ambush site and waits for the intruder, who is met by a sudden, fierce attack. When stumbling across a leopard unexpectedly, eye to eye contact and sudden movement should be avoided as these trigger an immediate attack.

FEEDING AND NUTRITION Leopards are opportunistic and will eat any available food source. The natural diet depends largely on the composition of the natural prey in the area. In some areas hyrax and rodents, such as mice and porcupines, are readily hunted. The size of prey varies from a mouse to an adult gemsbuck. Studies indicated that Impala represented 78% of leopards diets in the Kruger National Park. Leopards do not fear humans and have been reported to become man eaters, a phenomenon especially common in India.

We will continue our report on leopards in a next post, so keep watching our blog. In the mean time, how about coming on a great leopard hunt with us in Namibia – the world of leopards!





Hunting Legends