Poaching at Kruger National Park out of control as wire snares add to
Mashudu Sadike, IOL
November 24, 2021
Poaching has become a major concern in the Kruger National Park.
The two million hectare facility boasts a range of wild animals and
stretches from the north of Mozambique to SA’s Limpopo province, going
south to Mpumalanga. It is fenced to cater for the big five – lion,
elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino – categorised as the most hardest
animals to hunt.
However, the rhino numbers have started dwindling and are near extinction
because its infamous horn is believed in the world’s eastern countries to
be of medicinal purposes and an aphrodisiac.
In some countries, having a rhino horn is believed to be a sign of wealth.
But the rhino and elephant, because of their tusks, are not the only ones
under threat from poachers who enter the facility by cutting the
surrounding fence to shoot or set up wire snares to trap the animals.
In fact, wire snares are the most dangerous because they catch any animal
roaming around, according to state vet Dr Louis van Schalkwyk.
Speaking to Pretoria News, after darting a wild dog to rescue it from a
wire snare set up by poachers, the scientist said snaring of the animals
did not discriminate and trapped anything and everything.
He narrated how park officials have to treat wounds day in and day out,
slowly getting rid of animal species.
He said: “We had just been monitoring the park to remove a tracking collar
from a pack of wild dogs because we had been tracking them.
“By chance, we realised one within the wild dog pack had a wire snare
around its neck and was bleeding profusely. We had to dart it quickly and
“The biggest thing is to remove the snare because it causes irritation and
infection to the animal. Once it is removed, we give it antibiotics and
more medication for inflammation, considering we can’t take it into a
hospital and keep them.
“They are wild animals, and we need to do everything we can at one go,” van
These kinds of incidents happen in the park every day while some animals
are left to rot because they were never found by vets nor its capturers.
In the past three months, only two poachers have been arrested by the
Environmental Crime Investigative Unit, according to the head field ranger
at the Punda Maria area of Kruger National Park, Steve Mangena.
“Most of these poachers are extremely clever and know familiarise
themselves with the area.
“Snare poachers are the most dangerous because they put up the traps and go
home to come back and find their trophy,” he said.
Villages all around the park are the main instigators of killing these wild
animals because they sit around the gates waiting for the poachers to sell
them meat from the animals.
“Most of the people around here are extremely poor and depend on the
poachers to get them food and but at a cheap price,” Mangena said.
Asked on what the park was doing to combat poaching, South African National
Parks spokesperson Ike Phahlaa said: “We have intensified field rangers and
set up our own traps for poachers, especially those who set up snares.
“We have rangers, with the SANDF, patrolling the Kruger on a daily basis.”