Snares, the silent killer of Africa's wildlife


While the world’s media largely focuses on the rhino and elephant poaching that is taking place on the African continent, the sad reality is that thousands of animals of many other species are dying on a daily basis through the bush-meat trade and as a result of snaring.

While it must be granted that some of this snaring is genuinely for the subsistence of impoverished communities, the vast majority of animals are killed through greed for the commercial bush-meat trade. Field rangers dealing with this bush-meat trade still have to face poachers that are often well armed with spears, bush knives and even firearms and who are also often accompanied by large packs of hunting dogs. To remove the snares, rangers need to carry out regular snare sweeps that will often net dozens of snares at a time that have been carefully hidden along game trails and in thick bush where the snares are difficult to find. Where it is thought that the snares are freshly laid by the poachers, rangers will lie in ambush for days at a time waiting for the hunters return and even when some of the poachers are actually caught, the judiciary often sees these cases as "lesser crimes" and hand out weak or no sentences.

So often, these deadly rings of wire become forgotten by the poachers and can lie in the bush for years randomly catching any animal that wanders past. Sometimes, the animal manages to break free and then dies a long and slow painful death due to the infection from the terrible wounds. The fact is that our wildlife is being decimated at all levels and our conservation staff needs our full support in the undertaking of their difficult and often dangerous duties!

This project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.

Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.

Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.