Many of you are aware of poaching.
Poaching is the illegal taking of game or fish from private or public property.
In our project we study carnivores like lions, hyaenas and African wild dogs.
In many areas in Africa carnivores are persecuted. Mainly because of carnivore-livestock problems.
In the Luangwa Valley, due to tsetse-fly borne diseases, there are few human-carnivore conflicts and therefore carnivores are relatively safe in the whole valley.
Except from snares.
Snares are typically made from iron wire and placed in the bush, anchored to a tree of big log, to trap small to medium sized ungulates by subsistence poachers. These people poach to add some protein to their diet. However, there are some indications that some of these ‘meat’-poaching is for the (international) bushmeat trade.
The problem with snares is that they’re indiscriminate and often result in a very slow and painful death of the animal. Any animal which walks into them will get caught. Often a whole bunch of snares is set in an area of high ungulate densities, and snares are set along game trails. When the poachers returns and finds an animal in a snare he’ll get it as quick as possible to reduce the change of being caught. In the process they often leave ‘unsuccessful’ snares out in the bush. But these snares still work…
Large carnivores occur at low densities and are wide-ranging. During their forages they often travel along game trails, making them susceptible to those snares. Add to that that hyaenas and lions will be attracted by carcasses of animals previously trapped in snares but not removed by poachers. Also lions and African wild dogs, being highly social, typically hunt in groups. Especially African wild dogs will stick around if one of their pack members gets caught by a snare. Remember that snares are often set in groups together… More....