Snaring leads to huge losses for farmers

The Mpumalanga Animal Crime Watch bush warriors, (front) Louis and Jaco Vermaak, Shane Behrendt, (back) JK Klopper, Viana van den Heever, Natasha Vermaak and Justin Behrendt. Insert: Hundreds of snares were removed in recent weeks from a game farm near the city.

NELSPRUIT – Even the tallest land mammal is not safe from wire snaring. Game farmers in the region are finding wire snares high up in tree tops, an effort, they believe, to fell these animals specifically.

Mr JK Klopper of Mpumalanga Animal Crime Watch (MACW) recently assisted a farmer in the Hectorspruit area who had to spend more than R20 000 on an emergency operation to save a snared giraffe. According to the farmer, two more of them are currently walking around his property, dragging snares along with them.

Since he first started highlighting the incidence of wire snaring in the Lowveld region, Klopper has been inundated with requests to assist with the removal of snares. A growing band of volunteer “bush warriors” is tackling the issue hands-on, under his guidance. Klopper led a small group through the western Nelspruit Nature Reserve (Sonheuwel area) last weekend to determine the prevalence of small-game snaring here. “Fortunately we found no signs of recent snaring,” he said.

After investigating a case on a smallholding at Burnside, Klopper had suggested that poachers were running a business and not merely catching meat for the pot. The Mpumalanga Tousirm and Parks Agency (MTPA) denied these claims. However, a ranger at a private game reserve near the city, confirmed that they had been investigating the business side of the bush-meat trade for a few months. “People from the surrounding townships place orders for meat or animals, and a whole network is involved in setting the snares, removing the carcasses and selling the meat.” His team has removed hundreds of snares in the past few weeks on this 2 000-hectare farm.

Known losses due to snaring in the past five months include giraffe, zebra, nyala, impala and warthog. This approximates well over R50 000, the ranger said.

Another game farmer in Hectorspruit is near his wits’ end. He has lost more than R30 000 in the past three months on a 400-hectare farm. “They cut 200m pieces of wire from my own electric fence to use for snares!” he exclaims.

Neither of the farmers Lowvelder spoke to, believes that the MTPA or police can assist with this growing problem. “Now that it has become a business, the demand seems to be growing for bush meat,” says one. He adds that poaching is also not limited to land animals.

“We have caught people on our dams, sitting in tubes and with dragnets 150 metres long, stripping most of the fish. It is sold on the KaNyamazane Road and we have no way of proving it!”

The men are not sure of the selling price of bush meat.

To report snares in your area, which we want to plot on a regional map, contact [email protected]

To join the MACW bush warriors, visit their Facebook page or website at www.macw.co.za

  AUTHOR
Susanna Oosthuizen
Journalist

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