The leopard is considered to be the world's most persecuted big cat, but given its elusive nature information is hard to come by on what is necessary to effectively conserve the species. A variety of leopard specialists have now gotten together to address this issue in South Africa with the creation of the South African Leopard Forum.
This forum stems from a leopard population, habitat and viability assessment (PHVA) that was held last April, drawing together farmers, game wardens, nature conservation officials, scientists, hunters and conservationists.
The forum intends to act as an advisory body to authorities and other interested parties on issues relating to leopard conservation. Secretary of the SA Leopard Forum, Pat Fletcher, says that one of their first priorities will be to accurately assess how many leopards there are in the country, and where they occur.
This will provide a solid foundation for the forum to address other issues of concern, such as hunting permit allocations, translocation of captured leopards, the status of leopards outside of protected areas and human-leopard conflict.
Fletcher says that the forum has asked provincial nature conservation authorities to consider more carefully the inter-provincial translocation of leopards. This may be due in part to genetic studies being done on leopards in the Cape which are revealing previously unknown data about the species. For more information regarding the forum and its activities, contact Pat Fletcher at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) on 011 486 1102.