Nelspruit, Mpumalanga 09/02/14

Snares do not discriminate.

Anything walking through the bush can easily fall victim. Poaching for the bush meat trade may be the single greatest threat to wildlife populations in Africa. The most common method used by poachers to kill wildlife are wire snares, which are placed on game trails. Animals walk through the snares, which then pull tight around their necks or legs, causing strangulation and/or horrific wounds.

MACW did groundwork in the greater Nelspruit area and we discovered that snares are an epidemic in this region. We did groundwork at Plaston, Burnside, Cairn, The Rest, Primkop Dam, Friedenheim and as far as Hectorspruit.

Late on Saturday afternoon we went fishing around 16:30 just to take a break and wind down from the everyday routine. Just as we started relaxing, we heard a cry about 1.3 km into the mountains. At first we made nothing of it. We only heard it once and didn’t make much of it at first. 30 minutes later we heard the same cry. Our biggest fear was that it was a animal stuck in a snare and it was just before sunset. We immediately packed up and started driving along the road, stopping every 150m, listening. The animal was stuck somewhere in the mountain. The cry was echoing and that made it very difficult to pinpoint the location. We drove to one of the highest points to try and limit the echo. By that time darkness was setting in. We managed to narrow down the area from about 1.3km to an area of about 500m wide and 2km long up into the mountain. Not geared for any search & rescue, we went into the dense bushes in the hopes that when the animal cried again, we would have an exact location. Darkness overcame us and we were forced to get out of the bush as it was in the mountains and we did not have any lights or safety gear to use in this treacherous terrain. This was one of the worst feelings. We failed to reach the animal; no cries were heard any more. It was like death descended along with the darkness. We returned home.

MACW had a scheduled clearing the next morning at the Eastern Nelspruit Nature Reserve. Sunday morning greeted us with rain and we called off the clearing due to the rainy weather.  After the weather cleared, we returned to the area, where we had heard the dog the night before, to investigate. We heard the cries once again and called in the MACW Bush Warriors. We had a Code Red.

With a better idea of the vegetation we were facing, we rushed home to get the rescue kits and tools to cut our way through the dense bush. We waited for the rest of the rescue team and as soon as they arrived we started cutting our way into the bushes. The animal’s cry was getting closer and closer and after about 15 minutes of cutting and slashing, we found a much traumatized black male dog, approximately 4 months old. We estimate that the animal was stuck in the snare for 5-7 days. We named him Bush. He was caught by the left front paw. The rescue took another 40 minutes.

We waited for Bush to calm down and to get use to all the volunteers. After a quick examination, we decided to cut the snare from the tree and leave the snare on the paw until we could remove it without causing more damage to an already swollen front paw. We gave Bush some fresh water mixed with rescue remedy to calm him and quench his thirst. Then we started the mission to get out of the bushes as soon as possible. We had a crew of four Bush Warriors. Justin cleared the bushes and made sure we get the easiest way out, Viana took it upon her to carry the rescue kits and extra tools, Susanna lifted branches and took videos and pictures and Jaco carried Bush out to safety.   MACW Second Rescue Bush 2

Bush is doing well; the swelling on his front paw has come down and he will be ready to be homed in a day or two.

Please keep an eye for the Lowvelder for more details on how to adopt Bush. He is looking forward to be placed in his forever home.