Death traps

A new snare found attached to the fence.

Small wild animals are in dire danger of being caught in cruel and illegal snares on the edge of SANParks land.

Alan Hopper, a resident of Faerie Knowe for more than 20 years, alerted the False Bay Echo to these snares.

“The land to one side is National Parks, there is a fence which separates this land from the sewage treatment plant, and the snares are set directly on this fence,” Mr Hopper said.

To gain access to the SANParks land, one needs a code to a locked gate, which is the only access point along an electric fence.

The False Bay Echo visited the site, and was witness to the discovery of a new snare, set right on the fence, at precisely the point where SANParks land meets the sewarage treatment centre.

A guard’s hut on the sewarage treatment plant is a few steps away from the snare, in a direct line of sight to the snares.

“I can’t say who has set the snares, but I do find it hard to believe that nothing and no one has been seen doing so, considering how close the snares are to the hut,” Mr Hopper said.

He also said that any animal trapped in the snares would without doubt be seen, struggling to free itself, right up against the fence.

He said that he has been told that some people find porcupine tasty to eat.

“I haven’t any idea who would eat them, but there were remains of a porcupine found in one snare. What worries me is that absolutely any animal that tries to come through here will get caught, and let me tell you, it is a long, slow, horrible way to die,” he said.

Mr Hopper said the area is known to have had at least seven otters. “I have lived here for years, all the residents here know the otter family. We’ve kept tabs on them, always. Where there used to be seven, we can now only find one.”

This is immensely distressing, he said.

“This is a national park – it’s supposed to be a safe place for the animals, that’s sort of the point,” he said.

He pointed to a path in the long grasses. It curves gently through the grasses from the water; heading directly to the fence – and the snares.

“This run has been carved out by the animals naturally, over the years. All small animals will follow it. And while in years gone by it has never been a problem, now you can see for yourself where it ends.”

He said he cannot say who is setting the snares, but he wants them to know it is illegal, and he wants it stopped.

Mr Hopper was approached at the fence by two guards from the sewerage plant. He asked if they were aware of the snares or who set them. The men simply shook their heads and retreated.

The False Bay Echo contacted SANParks and Merle Collins, the regional communications manager of Table Mountain National Parks, said: “The snares were on the boundary fence of the sewerage treatment plant and SANParks land. They were removed. When we were informed of the snares, a team was sent out to investigate immediately. Snares are completely illegal – and it is a horrific way for an animal to die,” Ms Collins said.

She said that snares are commonly used to trap and capture small mammalian animals such as porcupine and antelope, birds are also captured in these snares.

The most commonly used snares are neck snares made of wire, cable or gut.

“Snares are commonly placed in areas where animals frequent such as their movement routes. Snares are often well hidden in vegetation alongside tracks or fences that the target species frequent,” Ms Collins said.

The snare is designed by having a wire loop that is set for the animal’s head to enter; as the head moves forward, the loop tightens.

Hunters may also use bait to lure the animals into the snare, once the animal becomes entangled the snare tightens around the neck or body.

“The wire snare will continue to tighten the more the animal tries to free itself, eventually the animal will die from exhaustion or suffocation/choking/asphyxiation,” she said.

Snares can cause severe injuries, pain, suffering, and death in trapped animals. Snares are also not species specific and may result in the death of non-target species.

“Snares are illegal and a inhumane form of hunting.”

According to the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 Regulation 45(2)(a)(i) to hunt, catch, capture or kill any specimen of a listed threatened or protected species is prohibited and anyone found guilty of this offence will be arrested.

“We urge members of the public to please report any sightings of snares immediately. The number to contact is 0861106417,” said Ms Collins.

Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said the City of Cape Town’s sanitation department does not have any animal control measures in place. “ Any such activity has been undertaken without our knowledge. Staff at the facility will be sensitised to the problem and will be instructed to be on the lookout for people placing these snares.”