23 June Article: Snare Removal Operation
The KaiNav Conservation Foundation’s S.N.A.R.E Initiative team conducted a snare survey expedition on the 31/05/2018 at the Cradle Nature Reserve. The survey was conducted with a team of 25 volunteers from the St. Stithians Thandulwazi Saturday School program and 4 KaiNav Conservation Foundation researchers. This survey formed part of KaiNav Conservation’s EarthBorne Wilderness Excursion Program and was in collaboration with National Geographic’s Umsuka Public Palaeoanthropology Project. This program is an experiential conservation and environmental education program designed to provide high school and college students with a unique, project-based education experiences as part of real conservation research projects. Prior to the volunteers’ arrival, four snares were set up in thick bush clumps surrounding the picnic area. This was done to demonstrate how snares are set and how difficult snares are to detect in a natural environment.Figure 1: Team briefing.
A mission briefing was conducted between 09:30 and 10:00 on roles, responsibilities and safety procedures. Participants were then introduced to snares, snare poaching and the Cradle Nature Reserve. Once the mission briefing was complete, the survey team walked to the picnic spot from the restaurant and were instructed to locate the sample snares set prior to their arrival (Figure 1.). Once all snares were discovered and discussed, the survey team was divided into two smaller groups and were lead in opposite directions along the ravine away from the picnic spot in order to survey as large an area as possible during our limited time (Figure 2). The location surveyed was identified as an area
of concern by reserve management during preparation for this expedition. Figure 2: Snare survey location
This area has been surveyed previously by KaiNav Conservation and reserve management. KaiNav Conservation has not retrieved snares from this particular area in the past, however, reserve management has discovered snares in this area in the past. The survey group examined both sides of the ravine in Figure 2, accompanied by reserve management, field workers and KaiNav Conservation Foundation researchers. No snares were located during the survey and only a few bones were identified by one of the survey teams to the west of the picnic spot. The method of snare poaching, complexities and levels of poaching and the importance of community involvement and development in wildlife conservation were discussed.
Figure 3: Team briefing below the Cradle Restaurant
Although Snare Neutralization, awareness and removal effort no snares were recovered, the nature walk provided ample opportunity for general environmental education regrading animals, plants and geology.
Conclusion: The vegetation structure (densely wooded vegetation along a drainage line) and presence of water in the survey area (Figure 2) warrants continuous monitoring. However, the proximity to the hotel and restaurant may be a deterrent to poachers from outside the reserve.
The fact that the last three surveys produced no snares should not be construed as a reduction in poaching, as discussions with reserve management revealed that snares are still being discovered in the reserve between KaiNav Conservation Foundation surveys.Figure 4: Antelope dung and different digestive system discussion
We continue to emphasise the importance of working with the Cradle Nature Reserves security and reserve management teams. Their local knowledge combined with the KaiNav Conservation Foundation’s scientific approach to snare poaching will continue to produce valuable data to inform both wildlife conservation and superior reserve management. KaiNav Conservation’s EarthBorne Wilderness Excursions are proving to be a valuable education initiative which contributes to the education of South Africa’s (and the world’s) youth while enabling KaiNav Conservation to sustainably continue and expand research projects such as the S.N.A.R.E Initiative. We look forward to continuing this research and education initiative with the Cradle Nature Reserve and its’ staff and wish to thank everyone from the Cradle Nature Reserve for their continued support and commitment to wildlife conservation.