By Susanna Oosthuizen
“This makes me morbid,” said Mr JK Klopper after examining the fourth skeleton of the day, this time the remains of a tiny animal, most probably that of a baby monkey.
Klopper is part of a growing number of Lowvelders who are taking action against the rampant poaching of small game by way of cable or wire snares.
On this particular sortie into a 1,5-hectare section of Burnside bush, Klopper and Lowvelder discovered the remains of porcupine, duiker, a bushbuck and monkeys. According to information on wildlifecampus.com, monkeys and small cats are caught and sold for muti.
Klopper, a self-styled bush warrior, is the founder of Mpumalanga Animal Crime Watch and wants to assist landowners with the clearing of traps – hard physical work, often demanding leopard-crawling through thick brush and alien vegetation such as lantana. Lowvelder recently experienced the arduous nature of snare removal while accompanying Klopper on another mission in Plaston.
The horrible telltale scars of a wire-snare injury are still visible around the neck of one of Ms Lindie Nel’s dogs. Her son, Liaan, has cut no less than three canines loose from traps near their smallholding on the Jatinga Road in the past month. “We can hear the dogs crying from a kilometre away,” says Liaan who has braved the bush at night to free these animals. The snares are set to catch small animals such as otter near a stream. Six traps were removed within 30 minutes by Klopper. Signs of a struggle surrounded one and porcupine quills were scattered at another. On his own property, he had removed over 30 of them in the past two weeks. Last week, he discovered an empty paint tin next to the Burnside Road, with large amounts of animal hair inside, and markings on the road pointing to the cache. “Why would someone do this, if this is not a collection point of some sort?” he asks. Upon returning two days later, he found evidence of fresh activity at this spot, “this means the poacher is able to deliver an animal every two days,” he believes. More....