Bushmeat is meat derived from illegally killed wildlife and has become an increasing problem in Africa. According to a 2014 Lion Aid report, every year between 120,000-160,000 animals are killed during the Serengeti migration by bushmeat poachers.
Poachers set snares to support their illegal bushmeat trade. The snare is simple, cheap, lightweight, easy to make, easy to set up and nearly impossible to escape. The typical snare used in Africa is nothing more than a length of wire ending in a loop formed by a slipknot.
As more and more people move legally or illegally on to once-protected conservation lands, snares become more prevalent. People need food and income, and bushmeat is a quick and easy way to make money.
While most of the snaring takes place on the Kenya/Tanzania border, Mara Elephant Project has confiscated over 563 kg of bushmeat from August – November 2016 in their patrol area mostly from wildebeests but MEP made a huge arrest and confiscated 500 kg of giraffe meat alone.
In the MEP areas of operation the most common connection MEP finds is between illegal charcoal making and snaring. Charcoal making is a time consuming process and when the kilns have been lit the makers have a few days to do very little before the charcoal is ready. This is an opportune time to snare wildlife. Most of the charcoal producers that move into the forested land to produce charcoal and snare wildlife are also squatting on the property.
While some animals make it onto the dinner plate, an estimated 90% of animals caught in snares will be left to rot in the bush or are severely wounded to the point that they are no longer able to feed or hunt, condemning them to a short life of pain and starvation.
Recently, the Mara Conservancy rangers spotted an elephant with a snare around it’s ankle. They were able to locate the animal and an Kenya Wildlife Service/David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust veterinarian was flown into the Mara Triangle to successfully remove the snare.
Snares affect every animal living in Africa including giraffes, lions, African wild dogs, elephants, and cheetahs. MEP and our partners must continue to be vigilant to eradicate these destructive practices.