Coast KZN

24 Jul 2020

Amanzimtoti group takes action against poaching

Earl Baillache (South Coast Sun) Picture: A blue duiker’s skull found by the group with the snare still around its neck.

The area’s wildlife is being decimated by poaching. That’s the findings of a group of nature lovers who has taken it upon themselves to rid the green areas of snares. To ensure safety and effectiveness, the group prefers to remain anonymous.

The spokesperson for the group said one of them decided to investigate just how serious the problem is about a month ago and returned with 20-plus snares. “A few others asked to assist and seven people went out. On the third trip there were 17 and we have now formed a group with over 150 members. On one outing we returned with 23 confirmed snares and lots of cut rope and wire, so the figure was probably closer to 30. We have now removed about 80 in total.”

Members, armed with radios to stay in contact with each other, pangas, sidecutters, water and pepper spray, are now making it a regular occurrence to walk through Toti’s green areas to remove any snares. In the process, they also cut down any alien invasive trees and plants they come across. Alarmingly, in three weekends they have come across four areas where sewage is flowing directly into waterways.

“Snaring is a huge problem in our area. They use either rope or wire and we are starting to notice a type of strategy, where specific poachers use specific material. We even found a barbwire snare and on the last outing, a huge bush pig pit trap.”

The group has found that the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (D’MOSS) areas are hardest-hit, such as Ilanda Wilds, around the stables, Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary and Red Sands, and they are busy mapping these hotspot areas.

A snare can be made from wire, cable, twine or nylon, shaped into a noose that is anchored in the ground or to a tree. It either captures the animal by the foot, if the snare is placed parallel to the ground, or by the head or body if suspended vertically. Snaring is extremely cruel and animals die slow and agonising deaths.

The group said poachers don’t target the main paths. “They snare the smaller crosspaths that wildlife use. You find the snares one to four metres off the main path. They often use two tree trucks or an overhanging branch, which they hang a rope or noose from. The noose tightens and the animal suffocates.

“The common belief is the animals are being poached for the pot, but we believe it is a lucrative trade for the marketplace and muthi. Finding dead animals that haven’t been eaten is the hardest part and evidence of this.”

Toti boasts blue duiker, bush pig, mongoose and porcupines. “We have only sighted blue duiker and mongoose. In some areas there are not even droppings. Poachers have decimated our wildlife.”

How can you help?

Become snare aware and keep an eye out for snares when you’re out in the bush. Remove or disable any you find and report the location of these to the Snare Aware Facebook group. Join the group to be kept up to date of the next snare sweep.

Poaching with packs of dogs is also rife in Toti and the group urge animal lovers to download the free app ‘Trackboxx’, where if you post a photo of the pack with the location, a team is sent out to investigate. The CCPO has also been an amazing help to the group.

If you come across an injured animal, call the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on 031-462-1127 or 083-212-5281 (after hours).

If your residence borders a green area, keep a look-out for any suspicious behaviour or noises and join the group to know who to inform and to know when members are active in your area.