Friday, October 06, 2006

South African documentary on leopard-farmer conflict to air

Baviaans leopard debate on the box

By Guy Rogers

THE feuding leopards and farmers of the Baviaanskloof will star in this Sunday‘s edition of 50/50 on SABC television.

The mysterious mountain cat, substantially smaller than his lowland cousins, is seldom seen. But farmers say its night-time forays into their flocks in parts of the kloof inflict substantial losses.

Conservationists argue that the leopards, historic residents of the kloof, are only following their instinct, and that effort should be made to identify and capture specific problem animals, and to free them into secure areas.

The half-hour documentary by award-winning Port Elizabeth film-maker Mike Vincent explores the reasons for the conflict, and some of the innovative solutions that are being used to protect stock, on the one hand, and prevent the decimation of the kloof‘s remaining leopards, on the other.

The Addo Elephant National Park has offered to take all leopards caught uninjured, and to relocate them to the Zuurberg. Some conservationists have questioned this approach, arguing that the only way to save the leopards of the Baviaans is to not only stop killing them, but to find a way to keep them in the kloof, perhaps in the core part of the mega-reserve owned by the East Cape Parks Board.

The programme will be flighted on 50/50 on SABC2 starting at 5pm on Sunday.

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