Farmers meet to discuss leopard threat

Baviaanskloof and Kouga livestock farmers threatened by increasing numbers of leopards will seek assistance from provincial and national government. This decision was taken at a crisis meeting of the Baviaanskloof/Kouga Leopard Management Committee in Port Elizabeth.

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It was initially convened by the Eastern Cape agriculture department, but postponed after one of the officials couldn’t attend. The farmers, however, decided to continue with the meeting. National Wool Growers Association deputy general manager Dr Amie Aucamp said livestock farmers and predators can’t exist together on the same farm. “Why must a farmer have a predator on his farm if there are nature reserves where these animals can be kept?” he asked. Leopard predation, he added, causes losses worth thousands of rand and is a reality that can’t be ignored.

Landowner Arthur Rudman said farmers don’t want to eradicate leopards, they simply need to protect their future and their staff. With animal rights activists playing on the emotions of urban people, South Africa’s wildlife management priorities have been neglected for more than half a century, he added. He also said all state-owned land and leopard-friendly landowners should obey the Fencing Act and fence their properties properly.

Misgund farmer Gottfried Kritzinger said the wives and children of farmworkers in the areas where leopards are found are scared to fetch water or gather wood for fear of being attacked. Liaan Minnie, who recently completed a Masters thesis on the presence of leopards in the Baviaanskloof area said it was important that farmers, researchers and all other stakeholders get together to find a solution to the problem.

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