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Threat or sustainable yield ...
There is a growing threat to wildlife from the setting of snares. Many areas are within easy reach of those to whom the prospect of a cheap meal is a compelling prospect.
Snare poachers fall into two camps: those killing for food for their own consumption, and those trapping on a larger scale for financial gain. The latter class may sell their spoils as meat, or as input to the muti and sangoma trade.
The latter trade may well be the most threatening, for cures and potions often call for body parts of rarer animals. (In the same way, bark stripping for the muti trade often puts pressure on rare species, such as the now endangered pepper-bark tree Warburgia salutaris, of Maputaland, lowveld escarpment and northern areas),
But of course, snaring is nothing new whether it is ‘low tech’ poaching or ‘high tech’ gun based poaching.
In 1982 a Klipspringer skin, could net the poacher about R2 but if it was cut into a sufficient number of fragments the retailer could net about R1000. This would be quite an inducement today.
Snaring is low cost, simple and effective. It is also extremely painful and cruel. Snares have been found along the northern slopes of the Magaliesberg and I am sure that if you come across one you would remove it. Yet this is only a mild inconvenience to the poacher, for whom the nearest replacement material is no further away than the next fence. A poacher may abandon a snare line completely if he observed hints of disturbance or surveillance. Unfortunately, these abandoned snares remain potential death traps for many years.
Game animals make the poacher’s task simpler by tending to follow well-used paths around their domains and particularly to water holes and licks. A snare set on such a path can hardly fail to deliver within a short period. Sometimes poachers create a boma around a water hole, leaving only a few (snared) openings through which thirsty animals are forced to pass – and be caught.