Columnists Features

Stop snaring, start caring

IMAGINE how poachers find it exciting to tell stories about how they caught this and that animal. How the animal grappled with a snare before it was slain.
Some of their listeners mistake them for heroes. Yet, the opposite is true. You must see them when law enforcement officers with their snares catch them; they nearly coil up like millipedes. They remind me of a dreadful façade that disappointed crocodile during a hunt.
But come on, snaring is barbaric. It is old fashioned. It is not an intelligent way of hunting.
It is for this reason that the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust with the support of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for nature, Zambia Wildlife Authority, among other partners, are staging a big music festival come September 20 dubbed the Nkhalango Musical Festival.
“This is second bi-annual Nkalango Musical Festival. It is an anti-snare campaign meant to sensitise local communities, around the Lupande Game Management Area (GMA),” says Ben Heermans, the conservation education manager at the trust.
Ben says Cleo – the Ice Queen, Macky II, Pilato, Cactus Agony and some of the screech artistes used to be part of the road back band for Danny Carrey from as far as California, USA.
And WWF Species and Protected Areas co-ordinator Moses Nyirenda says his organisation delights in being one of the main supporters of the event because snaring is one of the major threats to wildlife.
“It must be noted from the outset that according to the Zambian law, snaring wildlife is illegal,” he says.
The specialist, who convincingly appears to understand why human and wildlife should co-exist, says with the availability of different kinds of cables; from bicycle brake cables to the expansion optical fibre network and different power cables the vice is on the rise.
“Snaring has been on the increase and it is widespread. None of the flagship national parks has been spared from it,” he says.
He pointed out that snaring has been recorded in the North Luangwa, South Luangwa, Kafue, Kasanka and even the Mosi-O-Tunya national parks.
“Between 2009 and 2012,  combined efforts by ZAWA, South Luangwa Conservation Society and the Zambian Carnivores Programme  recovered 4,320 snares in the Lupande GMA,  which borders the South Luangwa  National Park”, he says.
Nyirenda notes that one of the drivers of the increased snaring is the high demand for game meat, due to an increase in population and economic activities in and around the protected areas
He notes that snaring is one of the worst kinds of poaching as it is indiscriminate and targets virtually all species.
Research reveals that although most snares are laid to catch smaller antelope species for illegal meat, their impact on unintended species (by catch) is devastating as other animals such as lions, hyenas and elephants are also caught.
Nyirenda says since the vice is widespread, it is likely that more animals are illegally killed by snaring than by any other forms of poaching.
The vice is also one of the most gruesome ways to kill an animal, death by snaring can take anything from days to weeks and sometimes even months. The pain will be excruciating and the animal eventually dies from starvation and infection.
– Pictures courtesy of South Luangwa Conservation Society and Zambia Carnivore Programme.
Till next week, ta-ta!!
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