As Namibia battles an increase in rhino and elephant poaching, the focus has fallen on the use of wire snares for animals, especially in wildlife havens like the Etosha National Park.
Chief control warden Rehabeam Erckie in the park management directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) last month sounded the alarm about 11 animals which were found dead in wire snares at the Etosha National Park in 2014 alone.
He raised this concern in January in a report titled “Snare Poaching and Predators Entering Resorts Inside the Etosha National Park”.
“From experience, we have learnt that residents kill game to eat and sell in order to get money. It is suspected that park residents set up wire snares.
The situation is difficult to control because the park residents wait until all staff members go to work before they go into the park and set up the snares,” he noted.
No arrests have been made in connection with these wire snare deaths last year.
Poaching for ivory and game meat has been a great challenge for wildlife conservationists and law-enforcement agencies in Africa, and the Etosha National park is no exception.
Animal species found with wire snares at Etosha camps, Okaukuejo, Namutoni and Halali include giraffe, kudu, impala, hyena, elephant and springbok.
In Namutoni alone, a total of 107 wire snares were found, while Okaukuejo reported 36 cases and in Otjovazandu near Halali, 18 cases were counted in 2014.
“It is a very expensive exercise, and it takes a lot of time to undertake a programme to remove wire snares from the animals.
In addition, Etosha has only one veterinarian, who is expected to attend to all veterinary activities inside and outside the park,” Erckie stated.
Because of the enormity of the challenge, it was agreed that only large mammals such as giraffe, rhino and elephant would be assisted when found with snares.
The snares at Otjovazandu were collected along the park fence and not inside the park or at junior quarters, as was the case at Namutoni and Okaukuejo.
The MET has now intensified foot patrols along the park borders and around the residential areas to deal with this problem.