Leopard allegedly left to die in cage: Uniondale farmer faces 6 charges

A Western Cape farmer has appeared in court this week, two years after he allegedly left a leopard to die in a trap, set to catch the animal. Warning: This article contains an image that might upset sensitive readers.

A farmer from Uniondale is facing six charges relating to animal cruelty and illegal hunting after he allegedly illegally captured a leopard in a cage trap without the requisite permits and left it there to die.

The alleged incident occurred in August 2020 and the accused made his first court appearance in Uniondale two years later.

André Barnard is charged with intentionally causing suffering to a protected wild animal, failing to inspect the trap or device at least once per day, unnecessarily starving a protected wild animal, torturing a protected wild animal, hunting by means of a trap and hunting of protected wild animals.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

According to a post on the Facebook page ‘Landmark Leopard & Predator Project’, Barnard of Toorwater farm along the southern slopes of the Swartberg, allegedly caught the leopard in the trap and knowingly left it in the cage to die of starvation and dehydration in August 2020.

“Barnard allegedly wished it dead, but did not want to shoot it. Nor would he call CapeNature or Landmark Foundation for assistance. Instead, it was left to die of dehydration in the cage,” said Bool Smuts of Landmark Leopard & Predator Project.

It is unknown how long the leopard suffered before it died.

“Thirst is the only urge a mammal cannot resist. Dying of dehydration, by deprivation of water, is the cruelest death any animal can be subjected to,” said Smuts.

He said there were reasonable alternatives available to the farmer that could have rescued the leopard from a barbaric, unthinkable death.

The leopard could either have been translocated, or collared and released back on site as part of a compensation scheme to the farmer. “Instead, the farmer allegedly left the leopard in the cage to die of dehydration.”

The case was scheduled for Monday to Wednesday this week. By Tuesday afternoon two witnesses had testified. The case was postponed to July 20.

The leopard that died in the cage trap.

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