The South African National Parks has employed more than 70 environmental personnel to monitor the hotspot areas around the Kruger National Park (KNP) where 21 765 snares were removed since 2016.
Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy said 7 997 snares were removed in eight of the national parks since January this year, with at least 7 447 snares being removed at KNP alone.
Creecy said 433 animals were caught in snares and 414 were just at the KNP during the same period.
She also said 21 765 snares were identified and removed in the KNP since 2016.
Some 1 080 snares were removed in 2016, 863 snares in 2017 and the number gradually increased over the years to 7 559 in 2022.
“All identified snares in national parks are immediately removed,” the minister said.
Creecy revealed this was responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Hanna Winkler, who asked about the number of animals caught in snares, steps taken to prevent snaring and whether any investigation was conducted on the drivers of snaring, among other things.
“Snaring is still a problem, especially in KNP. Regular patrols are undertaken in areas known as snaring hotspots,” Creecy said.
In her written response, the minister said measures taken to prevent snaring included information sharing among rangers and law enforcement officials about snaring hotspot areas and the modus operandi of the perpetrators.
“This informs planning for patrols and inspections. Snaring mostly occurs in the vicinity of fence lines and was mostly prevalent where fencing material was stolen,” she said.
“SANParks has recently employed 74 environmental monitors to monitor the hotspot areas around the KNP where snaring is prevalent,” Creecy said.
KNP also deployed technology to assist with anti-poaching activities since 2016.
“The technology also assisted greatly in collecting information on poaching related activities such as snaring, ” Creecy said.
Volunteer groups such as SANParks honorary rangers also assist with snare removal campaigns.
“This includes recording and reporting fence theft, incursions and evidence of potential perpetrators,” she said.
According to Creecy, some parts of KNP fence have been used for snaring material, which made up a small number of snares.
“The majority of snare material is thought to be stolen from lodges and building sites outside KNP, or purchased from hardware stores.”
The minister said regular meetings with community forums were being held where several matters, including wildlife crime and snaring, are discussed.
This year, several meetings were held in August and October.
Dialogue sessions on snaring are planned for this month and early next year with the communities.
Creecy stated that no investigation had been done into the drivers of the significant increase in snaring in KNP.
“However, SANParks intends to significantly enhance community engagement processes around the KNP to better understand the key drivers of snaring and co-develop intervention mechanisms with communities,
“Community engagement are planned to take place in December 2023 and January 2024,” she said.