Cape Town - Poaching along the Noordhoek wetlands is becoming a major threat to plant and animal species as the number of reported snares continues to rise.
More snare traps were found along the Noordhoek wetlands that are being used to capture small animals. Many animals found along these wetlands are indigenous species, which makes them more valuable.
Expert tracker and Harvard University Human Evolutionary Biology associate Louis Liebenberg said: “Poaching in the Noordhoek wetlands has been going on for many years, and recently we have had an increasing number of reports of snares.
“It is not clear whether this reflects an increase in poaching or simply an increase in ranger patrols, assisted by honorary rangers finding more snares.”
He said the poachers surrounding the Noordhoek wetlands were probably desperate for food due to poverty, however their snares were crude and ineffective.
In order to compensate for the ineffective snares, they seemed to be setting up larger numbers of snares.
“This also means they are not maintained on a regular basis, and we have found old snares that have not been checked for a long time,” he said.
Liebenberg said the snares were crude nooses set across paths, they were indiscriminate and may kill any small animal.
The main animals poachers are interested in included francolins, guineafowl and grysbok.
Noordhoek Environmental Action Group’s (Neag) Andrea Marais said: “The Noordhoek wetlands is a critical oasis for animals and plants. It is a major ecological corridor of extreme environmental importance.”
She said a Neag group explored the water levels in Papkuilsvlei perennial wetland, which is at the heart of Noordhoek. They found fresh shoe prints, animal spoor and two crude noose-type snares placed by a poacher.
“Snares of this kind can cause extended pain and suffering to many animals, not only the ones the poachers are after. Poachers often set as many snares as possible in the hope of catching the specific animal they want. We found the spoor of grysbok, lizards, frogs, porcupines and snakes.
“We advise everyone using the wetlands to look out for these crude snares and remove them in their entirety when you find them,” she said.
Liebenberg said: “Snares result in indiscriminate and wasteful killing which is not sustainable, especially since the Noordhoek wetlands is a small area and the human population surrounding the wetlands is simply too large to sustain hunting for food.”
SANParks has requested that dog walkers and horse riders keep on the demarcated trails and take care of their pets so that they don’t get caught in snares. If any snares are seen, they should be removed immediately.