Snares are strands of wire usually strung up between two tree trunks low to the ground. They are often used to catch zebra and wildebeest, so they can be sold illegally for bushmeat. This is a very common form of poaching in the Mara and one MEP patrol units often run into. In August alone, the Munyas team collected 20 snares from the forested area.
An example of some of the snares collected in August in Munyas.
During the great migration, Mara Elephant Project sees a rise in illegal bushmeat poaching using snares, and the unfortunate victim of that, are baby elephants. Since snares are set as a trap low to the ground, elephants oftentimes don’t see them and proceed as usual without realizing they’ve just been entangled. This is especially dangerous for growing young elephants because they tend to get snares caught around very delicate, vital places.
This was the case on August 29, when MEP received a report from Mara Triangle rangers of a baby elephant with a snare around its head. Mara Elephant Project CEO Marc Goss responded in the Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter to a thick wooded area in the Mara Triangle part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The helicopter and MEP ranger units on the ground worked together to safely separate the baby from its mother and herd of 30 for treatment. The Kenya Wildlife Service vet Dr. Limo with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mara Mobile Vet Unit was called in to treat the baby and the MEP helicopter was used during treatment to keep the herd and mother away. We are happy to say that the treatment of this baby was successful, and Dr. Limo believes he’ll make a full recovery. He was also reunited with his herd soon after he awoke from the anesthesia.
In the video below, you can see the baby struggling as the vet and rangers try to keep him steady to remove the snare and treat the wound.
Yet another baby elephant snare response came into MEP HQ on September 1; this one much more upsetting. A baby elephant with a septic front foot (pictured left) was found in Naibosho Conservancy and upon further investigation the injury was a result of a snare. MEP responded with Dr. Limo, who realized the extensive damage the snare had done to this poor baby. The wound was infected and the infection had spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system. The wound on his leg was drained and he was administered a strong antibiotic and anti-inflammatories; however, we aren’t sure he will make it. He’s being closely monitored by Naboisho Conservancy rangers and Dr. Limo and MEP will continue to do all that they can, hoping he recovers.
Dr. Limo treating the baby elephants foot wound.
These are two prime examples of the destruction snares meant for a zebra or wildebeest can seriously harm or kill baby elephants. MEP continues to patrol the Mara and rangers work tirelessly to remove as many of these harmful snares as possible.