For a marine project, The Orca Foundation makes sure not to neglect it’s terrestrial responsibilities as well. (If only all land-based projects also paid attention to the sea…)
Like everywhere in Africa, Plett has it’s fair share of poacher-problems. Today the volunteers at ORCA focused on snares. But first, a quick lesson on the snare:
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What is a snare? There are many types of snares ranging from the iconic gin trap snare to a simple wire snare. Each of them is designed to complete one goal: trap and injure/kill animals so they may be captured. Some snares, even the most remedial looking ones, can be deadly.
Who uses snares? Poachers. Anyone who is illegally hunting animals is a poacher. These people are either snaring animals for food purposes (many people in Africa are still going hungry, a problem not helped by the world’s economic problems) or for commercial reasons. Poachers can make a lot of money illegally trading animal products such as rhino horn, ivory, skin, etc).
While the only possible positive side effect of snares is that is providing food for starving people, all of the other by-products of using snares are horrific. Snares are non-discriminatory towards the animals it traps. Snares can cause an animal to be subjected to a painful and slow death depending on where it catches the prey. And, if an animal is unlucky enough to free itself, it could be disabled for life- a non-favorable status for those trying to survive in the wild. Another problem is when pregnant animals become ensnared and two or more animals pay the price.
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Armed with a few pliers we started off on a path riddled with cracking twigs. We were told to follow the trails and look betwixt the trees at knee level for simple wire snares. We were also warned to watch out for snakes- tis the season. I’m walking stiff with heavy, deliberate steps watching for snares, snakes, angry poachers and my path. It all seems a little bit Blair Witch Project (Or Bush Lady Project- click here) to me. I wondered if finding a snare was worth getting bitten by a deadly snake? Did I want to bleed out or have my flesh rot out just so an ugly bush pig would live to see another day?
Well, we were already here. Besides, it was gorgeous. Tall trees rising up from around us, fresh air, cape turtle doves calling and twigs cracking at our feet.
In the end we only got one snare, but that’s one less snare out there waiting to entrap an innocent animal.
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How can you help? Join the fight! Take a legal stance to increase legal sanctions towards poachers and their fines. Join or support an anti-poaching patrol (help to remove snares and arrest poachers!). And most importantly, create awareness through education.