De-snaring patrols form a key part of the Mbirikani Community Game Scouts‘ duties and this year efforts have been intensified in response to the marked increase in poaching activity. This added pressure has come about as a direct result of the drought, with crop failures and livestock mortality causing more and more people to turn to the already threatened wildlife for food and income.
The use of wire snares are a relatively recent threat to wildlife, becoming common only 10 to 15 years ago. Traditional snaring had gone on for countless generations but with the advent of common place metal wire the threat reached a new level. Traditional snares were made out of twine and therefore if they were not checked regularly, trapped animals would be able to break free. This is very rarely the case with wire snares and animals caught face a horrible, painful death. Fortunate animals will be snared around the neck and suffocate, those that are less lucky will be caught round a limb, or waist, these animals suffer greatly as they break bones struggling and very slowly die.
Snares are commonly set in thicker bush where they are placed along game trails and are therefore mostly found in the lava flows and forests that border Mbirikani and the Chyulu NP. So far in 2009 our MCGS and the Friends of Chyulu informer’s network (another project managed by MPT) have collected over 1000 snares! . . . a considerable increase on last years numbers. Below is a picture of Edward Paya, officer in charge of the MCGS, with a snare he found on patrol within the Chyulu NP last month.
Edward speaks about what he and the 60-plus men he commands have been experiencing, “2009 has been very busy for the Scouts and very very bad for the animals. We have seen more cases of snaring, spearing and other hunting for game meat than we have ever before.”
Though this is a bad time for the wildlife Edward is confident that the MCGS’s efforts are making a difference. “So far this year we have arrested nearly 240 game-meat poachers, plus over 100 illegal loggers and many more other lawbreakers.” The grand total of those arrested now comes to 460, plus the arrests made by KWS that are based on information given by our informers, The Friends of Chyulu, which adds another 368 to the list.
The amount of confiscated equipment handed over to the state speaks for itself. Currently this stands at 1 truck, 2 motorcars, 6 motorbikes, 14 bicycles, 41 bows, 51 axes, over 100 poisoned arrows and 114 machetes, plus confiscated game meat, wood products, ivory, cannabis and more, in addition to the 1043 snares.
More money is required to continue these vital operations. Please donate generously to the Mbirikani Community Game Scouts program by sponsoring a Game Scout in the monthly donation column or through an open donation — USD150 will pay for the salary and running costs of one scout for one month. Any amount, no matter how small, is welcome.
On behalf of the MCGS and all at MPT, Edward thanks everyone who has read our blog and donated so far and he asks that you keep up the support.
The MPT Team