Coast KZN

15 Nov 2023

Gill-netting poacher caught in the act in Warner Beach

(South Coast Sun) Picture: Supplied. Members of Snare Aware and a CCPO guard remove a gill net from the Little Amanzimtoti River in Warner Beach.

A member of Snare Aware spotted an individual on a small raft setting up a gill net on Little Amanzimtoti River in Warner Beach recently. The member, whose identity cannot be disclosed due to safety concerns, said that while they try their hardest to stick to their self-appointed mandate of snares, as nature lovers, they just cannot help themselves.

“The member documented the scene and shared it with the team. Once they confirmed the illegal activity, they devised a plan and swung into action. They promptly contacted the CCPO (Community Crime Prevention Organisation), who dispatched security personnel to assist,” they said.

The team obtained the necessary equipment, including an extension pole with a hook, to remove the net. Two team members found a path leading to the poacher’s location.

“Unfortunately, the poacher noticed them, prompting the two members to withdraw. The poacher left the area and headed toward the N2 freeway. Shortly after, the CCPO guard arrived and joined the two members as backup in their search for the anchored net. Meanwhile, two other members stayed on the bridge to keep watch,” said the member.

In the bush, the member said the team found the makeshift raft used by the poacher and the anchored gill net in the river, which was about 20–25 m long. “Removing it was a challenging task as it frequently got entangled in nearby branches. With the assistance of the CCPO guard, the team successfully removed the gill net and dismantled the poacher’s raft to disable their operation completely,” they said.

After removing the raft from the river, the team inspected the net by the road. The member said, “Moments later, the poacher casually walked by, inquiring about his net. He was politely informed by a team member that his actions were illegal and that they would involve the police if he persisted. The mere mention of the police prompted the poacher to flee.”

The member said gill netting is illegal in South Africa – just like snares, it is indiscriminate and catches absolutely everything. “This isn’t the same as taking your rod and sitting on the side of the river. Gill netting is for mass poaching, likely used to sell what’s caught,” they added.

For more information, to get involved or make a financial donation towards travelling costs, inbox Snare Aware’s Facebook or Instagram page. Alternatively, report gill netting incidents to the Department of Fisheries on 072 231 6070.