In general, Namibia seems to understand the value and importance of preserving its precious wildlife, and it’s one of the few countries that has made wildlife – and habitat – conservation a constitutional requirement. But as a recent incident involving the brutal and tragic death of a leopard shows, there are some glaring gaps and omissions in these laws that need to be reconciled – and fast.

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Namibia enjoys a unique set-up in which local communities own their land and are empowered to manage the natural resources on that land in a way that enables them to support their own social and economic development. Groundbreaking legislation introduced in 1996 also gave these communities the power to create, manage, and benefit from their own communal conservancies. In many ways, this has renewed a general interest in protecting area wildlife, as tourism has become a main contributor to these communities’ livelihoods, and wildlife populations have mostly benefited as a result.

The associated boost in wildlife numbers has enabled these animals to reclaim some of their range, but human populations also continue to grow, which is leading to situations in which wildlife and people are each encroaching on the other’s turf. This, in turn, is driving increased conflict between these communities and their local wildlife.

Existing regulations empower local communities to the degree that they do not specify how such conflicts should be handled, and often, that doesn’t bode well at all for wildlife. Take, for example, a recent incident reported on Care2 in which a group of men trapped a live leopard and allowed it to be “brutally mauled by dogs before themselves taking turns bludgeoning the young animal to death.”

Care2

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Unfortunately, these so-called “revenge killings” occur all too often, and they are rarely investigated, according to the petition.

More than 50 percent of Namibian species are highly endangered, and the African leopard is certainly among them. The enormous threat of poaching already puts these animals survival at grave risk, and Namibia’s communities, nevermind the world, cannot afford such needless killings.

Sign this petition on Care2 urging Namibian authorities to stop this unnecessary and inhumane violence against wildlife. This can be done by enacting laws that require non-lethal mitigation to take place, first and foremost, and which specify appropriate and humane kill methods to be used only when a targeted animals have indeed been proven a threat.

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Image credit: Angell Williams / Flickr

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