Snares on the rise
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA is painfully aware of the pandemic of illegal snaring that is threatening animal life on the southern peninsula urban edge right now. Our Wildlife Department responds to at least two call-outs a month to retrieve animals stuck in active snares.
In our midst
We have found and had reports of active snares being found across the Constantia Valley and further south into Fish Hoek and all the way down to and including inside Cape Point Nature Reserve.
What type of animals get trapped in these wire snares? How would they die?
They type of snares we typically find do not discriminate in the species of animal they catch; a trap set to catch a small buck will also catch a porcupine, a caracal cat, a baboon, a mongoose, a tortoise, a genet cat, a guinea fowl or as easily a domestic dog or cat.
Snares offer a cruel, agonising and drawn-out death to any animal that happens to get caught in one.
The type of snares we find here are of the self-locking, noose-type snare made either from binding wire, bicycle brake cable, construction string or plastic packaging rope.
Set up along game trails or at water points where animals frequent, the snares are anchored to a rock or a heavy branch and work to attach themselves around an animal’s neck, limb or mid-body, “locking” around the animal the more the animal struggles to free itself.
Animals caught in snares typically die from strangulation, exhaustion (from the effort of trying to escape), stress or hunger and thirst (or a combination of all of the above).
Animals can remain caught in a snare for days or even weeks before the poacher returns to check on his traps.
A poacher typically sets many snares in an area and often times won’t recall where each and every trap site is so we often find severely decomposed animals lying in snares that were never attended to.
What is being done to address the issue?
We are constantly lobbying residents, trail users, neighbourhood watch members, local land owners and farmers to remain vigilant to the presence of snares on their property and at their boundary fences, to remove any active snares that they may see, and to report the presence of any snares to the SPCA so that we can contribute to mapping the areas commonly snared.
The SANParks Honorary Rangers have a formal anti-snare patrol group that conducts regular snare removal patrols in the Table Mountain National Park areas.
There is a local organisation that recycles found snare material into attractive wearables utilising the proceeds from the sale of the items to fund awareness campaigns.
What is needed is greater awareness of the prevalence of snares in our neighbourhoods, the damage that they cause and the substantial risk that they pose to not only all wildlife species but to domestic pets as well.
Cape Town has a very active outdoor community of hikers, dog walkers, trail runners, cyclists, horse-riders and nature lovers who should all be keeping an eye out for snares (they are actually quite easy to spot once you know what to look for) whilst out enjoying our natural spaces.
Snares are NOT set only for food
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of snares being set on the urban edge.
The misconception is that snares are being set by the hungry and the homeless who need to eat but it is important to note that animals are being trapped not only for food.
A lot of times snares are set to trap animals for their pelts in the case of smaller mammals like spotted genet cats and water mongoose.
Increasingly, animals are snared and trapped to supply the “muti” trade with desirable parts from caracal, porcupine, tortoise, serval and chacma baboon driving demand.