The use of snares remains one of the most cruel and barbaric among the many methods used by poachers. We have repeatedly told our audiences, be it donors/sponsors, local communities, school children, colleagues and friends that snares are indiscriminate.
Mid last month our team was involved in the rescue of a snared lion! Yes, a male lion caught in a wire snare, which was lucky to survive the ordeal. Snaring is sadly and most unfortunately not given enough attention. Hundreds of animals or perhaps thousands across the world, go through untold suffering, anguish, pain and in many cases deaths as a result of this vice.
Ordinarily, during our daily anti-poaching and de-snaring patrols anything that looks, sounds or smells unusual is thoroughly investigated. Thus, on the 4th of July, during our regular patrol along the Kiolu area tacked in Meru National Park, our team decided to investigate some foul smell. I must quickly confess that the smell was really strong; no one was prepared for what awaited us! The smell ‘directed’ the team to an elephant carcass, which we approximated to have died about two to three days before.
The young bull had a snare, made of strong cable, around the middle of the trunk which had eaten into the flesh considerably. The snare had been set on a pathway that is frequented by buffalos and other wildlife about 200 meters from the parks boundary with the community. He was about 15 years old.
Considering that poachers in this area are predominately interested in bush meat, we concluded that the snared elephant was a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The elephant was unable to free himself as the snare had been tied onto a strong tree trunk. He must have put up a spirited fight; this was evident from the state of the area where his body lay. It is not clear if the poachers came back after putting up the snares, what is clear is the fact that patrols need to go up a notch higher.
As part of the procedure, we immediately reported this to KWS - Meru office and Mr. Haron Sang, the acting Senior Warden of Meru National Park joined the team at the scene. He remarked; ‘It is regrettable that we have lost this elephant to the hands of snare poachers! It is an indication and yet another painful reminder that a poacher armed with snares can cause the same or more damage as those armed with guns and other sophisticated weapons. We very sincerely appreciate the Born Free Foundation for their continued support and involvement in de-snaring operations and general biodiversity conservation. Together, we shall continue making a mark in the conservation map’ The KWS team removed the tusks for safe keeping.
Later, an extensive de-snaring exercise was conducted, removing a total of ten snares identical to the one that claimed the young bull’s life.
We encourage our friends and partners to faithfully support us for it is through their help that we are able to do what we do.
Victor Mutumah, Programmes Officer, Meru Conservation Area.