The Silent Scourge of Snares

Over nine years the Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit (BHAPU) has removed over 20,000 wire snares. Fine-tuning the numbers makes for alarming statistics:  this equates to an annual average of over 2,200 or six snares every day.

This elephant is lucky that the snare did not cut right through the trunk
© Bumi Hills Foundation

Mention the word “poaching” and thoughts of guns and axes probably spring to mind. Yet there is another type of poaching, and it’s silent, cruel, cheaper and equally as deadly.

Wire snares are easy to prepare and set and are usually for bushmeat.  Any type of wire can be used, from telephone and other cables to barbed wire fencing. Once the snare is prepared all the poacher has to do is position his crude, cruel device and wait. Often a poacher will set snares at several sites, returning after a day or more to check his vicious trap; it’s estimated one poacher can set up to twenty snares a day.

An example of wire snares recovered during a recent snare sweep along our boundary
© Bumi Hills Foundation

Any animal unlucky enough to have been snared may be exhausted and terribly injured from struggling to free itself… or dead after suffering for hours. Up to ninety percent of snaring victims are left to rot in the bush because the poacher will not usually collect every single one of his snares’ victims. He’s only after one meal.

Incredibly this young lioness survived the removal of a deadly snare that was slowly cutting into her abdomen.
© Bumi Hills Foundation

In 2009 BHAPU was formed to combat the issues of diminishing wildlife and environmental degradation due to heavy poaching, illegal fishing and unmitigated human strain on the land and water. In March 2016 the Bumi Hills Foundation Trust was founded, incorporating BHAPU with the aim of achieving long term sustainable conservation in our region in Northern Zimbabwe.

Since 2013, over 254 elephant carcasses have been investigated forensically by BHAPU, the majority of which were concluded to be victims of poaching. More recently, the poaching situation has evolved into a serious threat; armed gangs have moved into the wildlife area and surrounding hunting areas, mainly targeting elephants for their ivory and killing other large mammal species to supply the lucrative bush meat trade.

Every day rangers spend valuable time search for and removing snares. Frequently they will find new snares in place the day after a snare sweep. Removing snares before they trap an animal is a constant battle. Wire snares are indiscriminate, killing and maiming every animal, from the very small to the very large. A classic example of snare damage is the many elephants seen with a portion of their trunks missing or disfigured.

Thankfully this elephant has been able to survive the injury inflicted to the trunk by a wire snare
© Bumi Hills Foundation

BHAPU’s passion for wildlife and the associated environment is ultimately entwined with education, awareness and leadership. For ten years we have managed to keep our dedicated rangers, teams and operations running, supported by local patrons.

Unfortunately, poaching is becoming more of an issue and Zimbabwe’s current economic climate means BHAPU are finding it increasingly difficult to try and keep our wildlife and our environment safe. Failure is not an option: the future of ourselves is intimately connected with that of our natural world. To go forward and tackle the ever-increasing incidents of poaching and deal with the more sophisticated methods being employed by poachers we need help.


The remains of young buffalo cow caught in a cable snare. In her desperate attempts to escape she wound herself around a tree and suffered a slow and dreadful death. It is not known whether the lions that fed on her carcass did so before or after she died
©Bumi Hills Foundation

And urgently.

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