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A possible remedy to bushmeat poaching

Wednesday 17th September 2014

bushmeat snares
 Lots of snares but no poachers caught


All over Africa, poachers are setting wire snares to catch wildlife. Some do it on a small scale to feed their families, others do it on a commercial scale to sell bushmeat on local markets by the hundreds of kilos. The so called “by-catch” or collateral damage of these snares is that very many predators like lions get caught and die needless deaths.

The response has usually been to employ anti-poaching teams from wildlife departments or NGOs to remove snares.

In my opinion, this has for many years been possibly a wrong response. While it might benefit those to show piles of collected snares (see picture above) as a means of indicating that they are combating poaching, the reality is that in short order the poachers put out new snares.

It might seem like a strange suggestion, but I would advocate leaving the snares in place. Obviously the snares should be rendered ineffective so they can no longer catch animals, but by leaving the snares in place you will be able to snare the poachers.

The weak link in using snares is that the poachers need to visit them regularly to determine what they have caught. Such checks must occur regularly, as an animal left in a snare for too long can be eaten by a predator – or the meat will rot.

So snares can be used to catch poachers as well. Either by setting ambushes for those coming to check their snares, or photographing them with hidden trail cameras as they inspect the snares.

So instead of collecting piles of snares, you could collect piles of photographs of the poachers. The cameras these days are quite sophisticated and are activated by motion sensors. They can take pictures by day and night without the subject knowing they have been snapped.

The bushmeat trade is worth far more than the illegal ivory trade these days, and is destroying wildlife at a great rate. Also, it appears that a significant number of snares are placed inside protected areas, as poachers can operate freely there.

Time to stop collecting snares as evidence of doing something against poaching activities. Deactivate the snares and collect the poachers.

Picture credit: 

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Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:16

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