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Leopard conservationist speaks about leopard poaching

“If the killing is not stopped soon, we will lose the leopard,” says Fred Barrange.

FOLLOWING the tragic discovery of the leopard skins in possession of a suspect within the policing sector of Alberton SAPS on February 7, the RECORD spoke to Fred Barrange of the Leopard Conservation Project about the conservation of leopards and what the dangers to them are.

The Leopard Conservation Project is a non-profit organisation which aims to be the conflict manager between the big cats and the people of South Africa. Their work includes rescue, capture and relocation of leopards to save their lives.

According to Fred leopards are as endangered in South Africa as the rhino. The biggest problem according to him is the farmers around South Africa.

He said that the difficulty of obtaining a permit for the removal of the leopards on their farms, causes these farmers to rather trap and kill the big cats.

“Farmers often leave the trapping and killing to their staff, and the killing is not limited to one cat but several in the area,” he said.

Fred believes that this is the most likely origin of the skins in possession of the suspect, as the killed cats are skinned and the skins then sold to traditional healers or for the use in traditional garb. He said that a skin can fetch as much as R5 000.

CONSERVATIONIST: Fred Barrange has been working in leopard conservation across South Africa. (Photo from Leopard Conservation Project website).

“If the killing is not stopped soon we will lose the leopard,” said Fred.

“The way forward will be to educate people on the value of the leopard as a living animal. To farmers the leopard provides protection from other predators, far outweighing the effect of the big cat. This will go a far way to protecting the vulnerable species and lower the supply traded on the underground market,” he said.


Woman questioned for being in possession of leopard skins

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