Durban – Illegal snares are responsible for the deaths of wild animals, but not before causing them prolonged agony and suffering.
A young elephant was spared this fate after being spotted by eagle-eyed visitors Barry and Celia Coleman, who took a picture and shared it with iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority officials.
It was later discovered the snare had somehow become dislodged, leaving a scar.
But this kind of feedback from park visitors, said the park authority, was invaluable in helping injured animals.
During October, the couple who had been visiting uMkhuze, photographed the young elephant with a herd, drinking at the kuMasinga Hide, with what appeared to be a snare on its lip.
“They showed the photographs to iSimangaliso chief executive Andrew Zaloumis who had introduced himself to them while undertaking an inspection,” iSimangaliso said yesterday.
The following day, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife monitors were sent out to try to locate the calf, which they did, and they relayed the information to Ezemvelo KZN wildlife veterinarian Dr Dave Cooper.
At first light the next morning they re-confirmed the position, and Cooper was flown by anti-poaching pilot Menno Buyze to the area where the herd was seen.
“The sedated animal was only down for a couple of minutes while he checked for the snare, and once close up he established that it was an old wound and fortunately the snare wire had been dislodged and was no longer in place.”
The wound had healed well, leaving a pink mark but no other lasting effects.
While park rangers and staff are always vigilant for injured animals, iSimangaliso park operations director Sizo Sibiya said “clear photographs and accurate locations are always of great assistance in following up on such incidents”.
Poaching and snaring were constant threats throughout protected areas.
“With increasing human pressure, drought and unemployment in rural areas around parks, and 80% of iSimangaliso’s neighbours living below the poverty line, circumstances inevitably lead to increased incursions.
"Poaching levels have been reduced over the past decade but snares remain a constant threat – they are particularly evil contraptions causing prolonged suffering and misery to the animals caught in them, often even if they manage to escape.”