The South African government has banned from this year, hunting of the “Big 5” game animals in the country.
A ban on hunting of leopards is to take effect from this season, they announced.
However, the ban is temporary as it seeks to speak to a 2015 uproar over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by a U.S. dentist.
Environment Minister, Edna Molewa, said the government contributes 6.2 billion rand ($410 million) annually to Africa’s most advanced economy.
Leopard is one of five most desired creatures by hunters, along with lion, rhino, buffalo and elephant.
“There is uncertainty about the numbers and this is not a permanent ban, but we need more information to guide quotas,” John Donaldson, director of research of South African National Biodiversity Institute, told news agency Reuters.
SANBI drew on studies and data from a number of sources but Donaldson said most was from protected areas and national parks, and not from private lands.
The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) adds that this gives an incomplete picture.
“There are lots of leopards on private land,” said PHASA chief executive Tharia Unwin. She said PHASA was providing the government with leopard data from private lands.
South Africa has also been hit by worst drought in recent times. Unwin argues that the situation was good for leopard numbers as predators typically thrive when the rains are poor.
It costs up to $20,000 to shoot a leopard, it’s been suggested.
Hunting all of the Big 5 animals has been legal in South Africa since the 1980s.