Snares are a pervasive threat to wildlife around the world – indiscriminately killing hundreds of thousands of animals.
Snares are notoriously hard to locate in the field, and it would be a major advance if a handheld (or UAV-mounted) snare detector could be developed, to better scan landscapes and help Park rangers to more easily find and dismantle them.
WWF's Wildlife Crime Technology Project has been exploring radar as a potential solution, and this has shown some promise. We'd be grateful if field-based practitioners could share their experience with snares in this discussion thread, and if global engineers and tech-minded colleagues on WILDLABS could input on possible solutions.
24 May 2017 10:32am
Sam Williams ( @SamWilliams ) over on Twitter has underscored the importance of your qustion by sharing some of his work investigating the impact of land reform on the status of leopards in Zimbabwe.
Snares are a huge problem. Being able to find them could be a game changer. Any ideas? https://t.co/awXBp5VOXO https://t.co/5FFjshdFih pic.twitter.com/kFdLY8qpyx
— Sam Williams (@_sam_williams_) May 24, 2017
In the discussion of his paper, he writes:
The extremely high levels of poaching in Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC) were the result of a large human population being settled on private land with large wildlife populations, and were exacerbated by Zimbabwe’s economic crisis and food shortages arising from the FTLRP (Knapp, 2012; Lindsey et al., 2011a; Moss, 2007), limiting carnivore abundance in the private LUT. Poaching rates in SVC increased to extremely high levels after the FTLRP began; between August 2001 and June 2009 over 84,000 snares were removed and 4,148 poachers were captured (Lindsey et al., 2011b). The remains of 6,454 poached animals were recovered, including 2 cheetahs, 5 leopards and, 27 wild dogs (Lindsey et al., 2011b). Numerous individuals of prey species were also recovered during this period, such as 2,606 impala (Lindsey et al., 2011b), which would reduce carnivore carrying capacity through removal of the prey base (Hayward, O’Brien & Kerley, 2007). Within the private LUT, rates of poaching per unit area were over 2.5 times higher in the south than the north (Lindsey et al., 2011b), which is probably linked to greater proximity to the resettlement area (Fig. 1). When resettlement occurred the perimeter game fencing was stolen, facilitating access of poachers from the resettlement area to southern SVC and providing abundant material to manufacture snares (Lindsey et al., 2009). While fencing can be an incredibly useful tool for managing wildlife populations (Packer et al., 2013), it is important to use material that cannot be easily used to manufacture snares (such as Veldspan™ or Bonnox™), rather than the steel and barbed wire that was used to construct the fence at SVC (Lindsey et al., 2012).
(image credit: Samual WIlliams via twitter)