The leopard and lion aging test

MUCH of leopard range in South Africa extends beyond the borders of protected areas.

Leopards are only likely to be tolerated in these areas if their economic value exceeds their real or perceived cost. Commercial trophy hunting provides one alternative of achieving this.

Assessment of sport hunted lion and leopard trophies:

Guidelines for data collection sport hunting is an industry that requires careful regulation and a high degree of compliance with “best practice” standards to ensure it is sustainable.

This is particularly important for large carnivore species such as lion and leopard that have recently suffered widespread declines and are sensitive to human disturbance.

There is a need to standardise data collected from lion and leopard trophies across their range to allow independent assessment of trophy age, trophy quality, and hunt effort.

Such data can enable wildlife agencies to track population trends of hunted species over time and react to changes accordingly.

The biological impacts of hunting will also differ depending on the sex and age of harvested individuals, and must therefore be monitored closely.

In addition, blood and skin samples can easily be taken from trophies to provide valuable information on disease and genetics in wild lion and leopard populations.

These data would add immeasurably to conservation efforts.

Effective monitoring requires collaboration between professional hunters, operators, conservation authorities, and researchers.

In this document we provide guidelines on the information and measurements that should routinely be taken from every trophy animal.

Some of the information is collected in the field by the professional hunter immediately after the hunt, while other data are collected at a later date by examining the cleaned skull.

It requires no technical ability or special equipment other than a GPS, digital camera, and measuring tape; all of which are commonly used by sport hunters.

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