South African authorities have banned leopard-hunting for 2016. Now hunters won’t be able to shoot leopards for some time.  The temporary ban came following a global outrage over the killing of Cecil-The Lion in Zimbabwe last year by a US dentist.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), a Government research organisation, suggested imposing the ban.

John Donaldson, SANBI’s director of research, said: “There is uncertainty about the numbers and this is not a permanent ban, but we need more information to guide quotas.”

Donaldson said that most of the leopards are on protected areas and national parks, not private lands. However, The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa(PHASA) says that it is an incomplete idea, reports Evening Standard.

PHASA’s chief executive Tharia Unwin said: “ There are lots of leopards on private land.” The association’s data covers the private areas.  However, it is not easy to count leopards due to their nocturnal and secretive nature.  

Unwin also said that it takes $20,000 dollars to shoot a leopard. Hunters with fat pockets take part in so-called Big 5 game. It includes hunting of a lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant. Among foreigners, mostly American hunters come to Africa to play the game, said Unwin.

Since the 80s, the hunting of the big five animals has been legal in South Africa.

In January, The Guardian reported that South African authorities had banned leopard-hunting the whole of 2016.

The department of environmental affairs said: “Provincial conservation authorities were informed that leopard hunts should not be authorised in 2016.”

As the size of the population is still unknown, it is hard to count the exact population.

“We just don’t know how leopards are faring in South Africa. They’re secretive, mainly nocturnal, solitary and range over huge areas” said Guy Balme of the environmental group Panthera.

Andrew Muir of the Wilderness Foundation said: “ Until we know population numbers and carrying capacity we should not hunt them.”