An increase in the number of snares found in the Diep River poses a threat to both wildlife and people, says the City of Cape Town.
Over a period of less than a month, staff from the City’s biodiversity branch found 57 snares while on daily foot patrols in the Diep River, said mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt.
The area is part of the Table Bay Nature Reserve and is situated close to Table View and Dunoon.
The snares found were made of different materials including wire and chrome-plated steel.
“Our staff conduct daily foot patrols and never before have they found as many snares at one sweep,” she said.
The snares are suspected to be set by people living closer to the nature reserve, or people dealing in the illegal bush meat trade and using illegal and prohibited hunting methods, she said.
The reasons for the increase in snares are unknown at this point.
The penalty for hunting without a permit in terms of the nature conservation ordinance could be
R80 000, two years imprisonment or both, according to Cape Nature spokesman Petro van Rhyn.
Cape Nature is the regulatory authority that issues hunting permits, and is responsible for enforcement at reserves. Ms Van Rhyn said only one case involving snares was reported in the Table View area in this financial year. “Cape Nature conducts regular patrols at hotspots that have been identified by reserve management.”
Ms Van Rhyn said they had not seen an increase in snares in other areas.
Ms Nieuwoudt said snares were “illegal, indiscriminate and incredibly cruel”. “Not only are they a threat to animals, but they also pose a threat to humans. Many residents use the reserves for running and walking and could be seriously injured. If left unchecked, small and medium antelope species could be wiped out or simply driven into local extinction,” said Ms Nieuwoudt.
Caracal, and antelope species are among the wildlife found in the reserve.
Ms Nieuwoudt said once set, snares remain in place until some animal gets caught. This is often not the target animal and all forms of animals can get snared, including pets.
“Runners should always exercise caution and be on the lookout for anything that may impede their running, or cause injury,” she said.
Animals often get caught by a limb and take several days to die while others manage to break free and are either maimed for life or die slowly from the injury. Set snares are not always checked – often the poachers will check for a couple of days, lose interest and then subsequent snared animals are never retrieved.
“We urge members of the public to please help us fight this cruel habit and prevent the torture and killing of animals that could possibly lead to the extinction of indigenous species,” said Ms Nieuwoudt.
The public can report any illegal activity or snares to the Quemic Control Room by calling 083 499 1717 or the Public Emergency Call Centre at 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.