written by David Hofmann & J.Weldon McNutt

Having opportunistically radio-collared the dominant male in the Dijo Pack in order to monitor the pack and the dog badly injured by the wire snare, we were able to not only map the Dijo Pack ranging, but also identify where they might be running into wire snares. With the movement data downloaded and mapped back in Dog Camp, we were able to investigate the pack’s movements from GPS data logged over the two weeks between removal of the first snare and our finding them with three more snared dogs. The map of their movements (below) shows the pack first moved north into Chobe National Park, then back South-East towards Mababe village, before turning and heading back to the NW through the southern tip of Chobe NP toward Khwai village and the section where they were found (conveniently near the road) so that we could get to them easily and remove the snares described in Snared Dogs. We assume most of the area where they had been ranging to be low risk of snares because they were mostly inside the Chobe National Park. It is more likely that the illegal snares are being set for bushmeat game animals such as impala, duiker, kudu outside the protected areas. Sadly, however, such bushmeat poaching methods are indiscriminate and unintended “non-target” species such as endangered African wild dogs and other predators fall victim.

Movement route of the pack two weeks prior to the snare removal. As you can see from their trajectory, the dogs passed by the village of Mababe, a village known for its illegal trapping and hunting activities.

Because of this sudden appearance of several snared animals in a short space of time and in a relatively confined specific area, alarms were raised and concerned residents of Ngamiland rallied to respond. Within a few days we at BPC teamed up with a large group of volunteers and government agents on a ‘search and destroy’ mission to remove wire snares from the bush in the area between the nearby villages, Khwai and Mababe.

With this area in focus, volunteers from Maun and around the  area joined agents from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Anti-Poaching Unit, Investigations Unit, and K9 Unit, plus agents from the Botswana Police Service, and the Botswana Defense Force.  Over five days, four teams working in four focal areas removed a total of 108 wire snares from the small corridor between the two community Wildlife Management Areas. About half came from the WMA NG19 and the other half from NG41. Some opportunistic collateral findings included several bird traps setup near the tourist  lodges and a hidden stash of elephant tusks which was collected and turned over to the authorities present.

Illegal activities such as bushmeat hunting even in Botswana’s valuable WMA’s are a threat to the region’s wildlife and economy. Snaring in particular is an indiscriminate method of bushmeat hunting and can be very difficult to eliminate. The collective effort of multiple stakeholders and concerned volunteers to patrol and remove snares was the first of its kind and illustrates that joining forces of various governmental and non-governmental organizations with a concerned public can be effective in curbing illegal activities in Botswana’s world renowned wildlife areas.

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