AN illegal trophy hunt of a leopard, implicating a South African hunter, is being investigated by Namibian authorities.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is probing a South African hunter, Ferdi Kemp, for an alleged illegal leopard hunt that he arranged for an American client in April 2009.
Kemp, who conducts hunts in Namibia through Namibia Pro Hunting & Safaris, said this week that he is assisting the Police with their investigation "because I am innocent".
Kemp's passport was temporarily confiscated by the Police in June before a court appearance at the Okahandja Magistrate's Court was cancelled. Since then, Kemp has returned to South Africa.
His next court appearance is scheduled for August. Numerous attempts to obtain details on the investigation from the ministry, on whether Kemp has been charged or fined, failed this week.
It is alleged that Kemp allowed his client to shoot a leopard during a trophy hunt on a farm outside of Okahandja, despite the absence of legal permits.
Kemp rubbished the allegation, claiming that he paid a Namibian professional hunter (PH) N$10 000 for the day. He claimed that his payment should have ensured that a legal permit be obtained by the PH. He could not explain why he did not check with the PH on the day of the hunt whether a permit was granted for the hunt of the protected species.
"I have a hunting operation in Namibia. I may not hunt leopard in Namibia without a PH from Namibia present. I approached a PH to accompany the American on the hunt. The PH neglected to obtain the permits after we paid him," Kemp alleged.
A spokesperson for the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) explained however that the responsibility of conducting a legal hunt, including the application for permits, rests with the person who is directly responsible for the client.
"The person who fetches the hunters is responsible for the permits. If the hunter himself cannot legally apply, it must be arranged beforehand and it must be discussed".
The case came to light after the American client lodged an official complaint at an international hunting forum earlier this year. The complaint was made after the client was unable to obtain his trophy from the leopard kill because of the lack of legal documentation.
His complaint prompted the local investigation by the ministry, the Police and the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (Napha).
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism confirmed their investigation into Kemp, but could not yet reveal the identity of local hunters who are linked to the case.