In many parts of Africa wire snare hunting is the preferred method for poaching wild antelope. Tens of thousands of animals lose their lives to snare hunting every year, and unfortunately some species that aren’t targeted directly, get caught as by-catch. Most importantly, South Africa’s most endangered carnivore, the African Wild Dog, is particularly susceptible to being caught in snares meant for other species.
In some areas, African Wild Dogs have been completely wiped out due to illegal snare hunting, especially in the more remote areas where law enforcement and monitoring is non-existent. In roughly 4 years, Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) had 43 Wild Dogs caught in poachers’ snares (that we knew of). In KZN every pack in the province is being monitored by a dedicated team, which can help detect these incidences. In some reserves these packs are located twice daily. Keeping tabs on these packs allows the monitors and other officials to respond accordingly. This doesn’t only allow the monitoring and veterinary teams the opportunity to remove and treat wild dogs caught in snares, but also allows the area to be swept clean of other snares – thereby preventing more Wild Dogs being caught through snare hunting.
Purely from this intensive monitoring, 29 of these 43 individuals were saved, and obviously many more prevented from being caught as snare hunting by-catch. The majority of the 9 lost were caught in the more remote areas, so detection was slower, and some of these dogs died later from their wounds.
Some of the surviving individuals sustained minor injuries, while others were more severely wounded. Some have had limbs amputated due to the snare damage. Four of the 5 wild dogs that have lost legs to snaring have had a chance to continue their lives running wild again. And, although at a slight disadvantage, they seem to cope very well on just 3 legs! What is even more amazing is that 2 of these amputees were females who have both managed to give birth to and raise 2 litters of pups each. These statistics remind us once again how important wildlife monitoring can be.
There are less than 5000 African Wild Dogs left in the world, possibly even as few as 3000. Wildlife ACT strives to save this endangered species. This is achieved through daily wildlife monitoring, saving wild dogs from snares, eradicating snare hunting, and by fitting anti snare collars. Please support us and others to help make this possible, and a huge thank you to all our dedicated supporters and partners.
Text by Chris Kelly