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World Reports

Snatching Snares to Save Wildlife

Young heroes in Kenya

 

In the past 20 years, Africa has lost half of its wildlife. One of the major threats comes from snares placed to capture wildlife for the bushmeat trade. Youth for Conservation (YfC) is a grassroots charitable organization of high school graduates who have committed themselves to the protection of Kenya's threatened wildlife.

     YfC's Josphat Ngonyo explains how his group works with Kenya's understaffed nature park and wildlife reserve workers to "find and remove snares meant to catch and kill wildlife in a terrible and cruel death."

     On a single day, from 3 to 5 percent of the snares trap and kill a passing animal. In one 24-square-kilometer area that YfC surveyed, that translates into the deaths of 168 animals a week or 8,640 a year. In that single 24-square-kilometer section, YfC volunteers managed to find and remove 779 wire snares in three weeks.

     As of last August, YfC had carried out 14 snare sweeps and removed 2,682 wire snares and six bird traps. Last August, a team in Masai Mara, assisted by a vet flown in from Nairobi, was able to remove a snare that had wrapped around the neck of a lion, saving the animal from strangulation. The team also treated another lion with a serious leg wound inflicted by a snare. In Masai Mara, Ngonyo reports, the team removed "nearly a 100 snares in 12 days."

     While many of the snares are set to trap animals for commercial sales, some are simply set by desperate, hungry villagers. "People snare because they are poor, hungry and find bushmeat to be cheaper than livestock meat," says Ngonyo.

     YfC also carries out community education programs to promote the intrinsic value of wildlife and to encourage "harmonious coexistence with wildlife and habitat," Ngonyo explains. "We also promote income-generating sustainable alternatives to snaring such as bee-keeping and neem tree farming."

What You Can DoSupport the work of Youth for Conservation [PO Box 27689, Nairobi, Kenya, y4c@alphanet.co.ke]. Books and magazines can also be donated to YfC's environmental library. IMMP and Earth Island Journal's Green Pages Fund recently sent a $400 gift to YfC to fund a desnaring project.

   

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