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March 17, 2017

Horrific video emerges from Namibia of leopard brutally attacked by dogs then bludgeoned to death with an axe as men watch and laugh

HSI calls for urgent action to stop cruel methods used in killing of ‘problem-causing’ animals (Caution: graphic content)

Humane Society International

  • Shocking cruelty. Bernd Zoller

CAPE TOWN—Shocking video from Namibia has emerged of a wild leopard, caught in a trap, being savagely attacked by a pack of dogs on government-owned property and then mercilessly bludgeoned to death by a group of men, in what is believed to be an example of ‘problem-causing animal’ control in the country.

The brutal killing lasts for several minutes, during which time the dogs rip flesh from the young leopard’s body while he is still alive—a group of what appears to be four men stand watching and laughing. The men then take turns beating the leopard with large sticks as the dogs continue to attack. The violent assault ends when one man bludgeons the leopard’s head with an axe handle continuously for more than 40 seconds and kills the animal. One of the men is seen carrying a gun that could have at least quickly ended the animal’s suffering.

Please sign our petition to speak out against this horror.

According to a source who provided the video to Humane Society International, the attack may have been filmed earlier this year on a government-owned commercial farm operated under the management of the Namibia Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, located on the east of the Waterberg Plateau National Park, a property run by the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism. It is suspected that the farm in question may be Okamumbonde and this name can be seen on the back of the overalls worn by one of the men in the video.

Although trophy hunting leopards with dogs is illegal in Namibia, a provision under the country’s Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975 allows a landowner to kill “protected game”, including leopards, via a special permit when defending human or animal life, or in some cases even crops. The ordinance does not specify appropriate kill methods, leaving room for severe suffering through cruel trapping, poisoning, hunting with dogs, and—as seen in video—even bludgeoning. Namibia’s regulations do not require any demonstration that alternative non-lethal measures (such as livestock guarding dogs) have been considered nor that the welfare of the animal is taken into account. The killing must be reported only after it takes place (within 10 days) but allegedly rarely is. These types of incidents are said to be pervasive in Namibia and almost never investigated.

Humane Society International hopes the release of the video exposes this prevalent and shocking animal cruelty, improves regulations to protect the welfare of wildlife, and leads the government to prioritize other non-lethal means of human-wildlife conflict management.

Audrey Delsink, executive director of HSI/Africa, said: “The killing of this leopard is one of the most heinous examples of wanton animal cruelty I have ever seen. This poor trapped creature endured a prolonged attack and will have suffered immensely throughout. What is particularly shocking is the utter disrespect displayed by the men involved, who laugh as the animal is repeatedly savaged by dogs and beaten. Such animal cruelty is abhorrent and will, I am sure, send shockwaves across Namibia and the world. It is imperative that the tragic death of this leopard leads to an urgent change in Namibia’s law. No animal should ever be treated this way, and the loophole that provides carte blanche for such cruel and barbaric killing must be closed.”

HSI is seeking signatures in support of a petition to the Namibian government to amend the Nature Conservation Ordinance, and relevant laws and regulations, to ensure that:

  • Cruel killing methods such as trapping, poisoning, hunting with dogs, bludgeoning, or those that otherwise cause unnecessary suffering, are outlawed.Robust procedures are put in place and enforced to ensure that animals targeted as "problem-causing" are a genuine and proven threat to human or animal life.
  • All alternative means of non-lethal mitigation are first considered prior to lethal measures, which should only serve as a last resort.
  • If killing is deemed absolutely necessary, the method must be humane and without the use of trapping, poisoning, dogs, use of blunt force, or methods that otherwise cause unnecessary suffering.

Facts:

  • The 2016 IUCN Red List assessment of the leopard (Panthera pardus) demonstrates the precipitous decline of the species over the past 15 years: in 2002, the species was considered Least Concern; in 2008, Near Threatened; and in 2016, Vulnerable.
  • A 2016 comprehensive scientific analysis found that the total number of leopards today in Africa is unknown, but that the leopard population in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Namibia, has declined by more than 30 percent in the last three leopard generations (22.3 years).
  • The African leopard subspecies has lost 48 to 67 percent of its historic continental range, and an estimated 30 percent of their historic range in Namibia.
  • Leopards are the most widely distributed large carnivore in Namibia, inhabiting most of the country with the exception of the highly populated northern region, the arid southeast farmlands and the desert coast. The population of Namibia’s leopards was estimated at 14,154 (with a range of 13,356 - 22,706) in 2011.
  • The continued survival of this elusive and majestic cat is endangered by staggering land conversion for agricultural purposes, habitat fragmentation, loss of prey species targeted for bushmeat, retaliatory killings due to conflict with livestock ranchers, poaching for pelts used as ceremonial furs, and indiscriminate killing from snares set for other animals.
  • Approximately 60 to 70 of Africa’s people rely on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods, and the human population of Africa is expected to more than double by 2050, meaning the future will likely see increasing numbers of people using increasing amounts of land in conflict with decreasing numbers of leopards.
  • In July 2016, with the support of renowned wildlife experts Jane Goodall and Dereck Joubert, animal protection and conservation organizations, led by The Humane Society of the United States and HSI, filed a legal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend the full protections of the U.S. Endangered Species Act to African leopards.

ENDS

Media contact: For more information or to arrange an interview with HSI subject experts, contact Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media: whiggins@hsi.org