Reports in the press and social media may have already informed you of the zero quota for leopard hunts in 2016. Many anti-hunting groups are hailing this as a “BAN ON LEOPARD HUNTING” being imposed in South Africa. This is not factually correct. 
CITES has allocated 150 leopard export permits to South Africa for 2016. But the responsibility for taking up that quota still lies with the country or origin, and in our case The Honourable Minister of Environmental Affairs. One of the standard pre-requisites for allocation of a quota is a continued “Non Detrimental Finding” (NDF) for listed species. This requires a thorough process which determines the “Risk Level” that the particular animal finds itself in based on complex criteria.
The NDF for Leopard, released late last year, is attached to this article for your information. (Click Here for the attachment) Page 4 shows two graphs describing where leopard finds itself under the current regime, and where it would find itself should certain required interventions occur. The current position is clearly just into a high risk zone (Graph 2a) and the required and intended actions bring it back into the moderate risk zone and fairly near the low risk quarter (Graph 2b) It must be clearly understood that the factors that are raising this risk profile predominantly relate to a lack of properly reviewed scientific data being on record and relatively poor management and monitoring of trophy and damage causing animal hunting. NOT the actual status of the animal itself as this is, from a scientific/record perspective, still vague. Any hunter or person spending much time in territory still supporting leopard populations will probably feel the populations are quiet adequate and secure. The required action to move the NDF into the zone of Graph 2b is clearly stated: “while 2B indicates the potential risk to the species after improved monitoring of the species and harvest, and the development of national norms and standards for the management and monitoring of leopard trophy hunting and putative DCAs in South Africa. In this scenario the species is at moderate risk and trade is not detrimental”
In determining and clarifying the situation with the Department I put some specific questions to Mpho Tjiane, Deputy Director: CITES Policy Development & Implementation. He answered most satisfactorily and I copy the questions and answers here below for your info:
Dear Stephen 
Below is my attempt to answer your questions 
1. Is this NDF in the public domain? i.e. May we share it with our member base through our media, or is it still only for internal/stakeholder eyes?
   Yes the NDF is in the public domain and was published for public comments 
2. Will any of the provinces still be permitted to issue local hunter (non-CITES export) hunting permits, and if so, which provinces?
    No Hunting for local hunters will be allowed based on the concerns raised by the recommendation from scientific authority 
3. I assume that permits for DCA will proceed as normal. Am I correct?
    Yes, all DCA permits will proceed as normal and Provinces have been requested to complete post hunt forms after every DCA 
4. Who will take the lead in fast tracking the required and recommended processes within the NDF that will again lead to allocation by South Africa of a CITES hunting quota.
    All involved (DEA, SA, Provinces, Industry) all need to play a role to ensure that hunting is sustainable. DEA and SA will coordinate
5. What is the anticipated time-frame to achieve point 4 above?
    There is no given timeframe but in 2016 we hope achieve most of those targets and SA will revaluate the population at the end of the year and make a recommendation to DEA
I am sure that every hunter would agree that we would not want to hunt any animal if that hunting puts the specie at risk. We are confident that leopard populations in South Africa are robust enough for a fair hunting quota annually for both export as well as local hunters. CHASA will continue to engage proactively with government as well as other stakeholders to ensure that responsible hunting, including that of leopard, is part of the recognised contribution to Conservation through Sustainable Utilisation. 
I would also like to thank Mpho Tjiane, Malepo Phoshoko and the team lead by Dr Moscow Marumo of the Dept. of Environmental Affairs for their dedication and attention to matters of concern to all hunter-conservationists.
Stephen Palos - CHASA CHAIRMAN
Cell: 082 905 7400