Mission Possible Serengeti: Update October 2020

We are, of course, at the peak of the snaring conflict in the region right now as the density of the great herds remain in Lamai this October and the FZS/TANAPA have 4 teams operating locally, north and south of the river. Historically the herds traversing the 300 Kilometre migratory routes of the Greater Serengeti-Ngorongoro ecosystem, number in the region of 1.6 million wildebeest. Thus, you may be forgiven for asking what all the fuss is about here, the wildebeest are clearly more than plentiful. Reality is different, snares are brutal and indiscriminate, a dead wildebeest attracts both hyena and lion, as shown recently when 3 lions were tragically caught and killed in snares last month in the neighbouring conservancies of the Masai Mara. They can cause horrendous and debilitating injuries to our precious elephants which in turn makes those animals far more likely to fall into human wildlife conflict through crop raiding to supplement their diets. Quite literally, it’s a vicious circle, made of metal wire.

Frankfurt Zoological Society reports for the year to date;

Four teams in the field: 

  • 2,926 Snares Removed to date
  • 18 poachers camps destroyed
  • 36 meat poachers arrested
  • 129 animals found dead in snares

Most importantly:

  • 40 animals released from snares
  • 2 elephants sedated and snares removed from their trunks
  • 40 animals released from snares
  • Saved nigh on 3,000 potential casualties

Ranging ahead of the herds the FZS de-snaring teams operate in what have been identified as snaring hotspots. Generally close to village farm lands where the local population has traditionally relied upon this seasonal bounty to provide proteins that are otherwise very scarce. In recent years the success of these teams has had a marked effect, with younger generations finding alternate sources of income and work in the tourism and related trickle down industries. Whether as mechanics, farmers, market stall vendors or other general work; there has been a profitable business environment related to the success of the tourism industry. This year, as we all know, has seen a collapse in global tourism and the pressure is now on, as out of work youngsters have taken to the field once again. 

By supporting our “Mission Possible” de snaring programme, run by the Tanzania National Parks and ably supported  by the Frankfurt Zoological Society, they have managed to employ a number of those individuals; keeping them on the right side of the equation. 

It is working… evident by number of snares collected and the animals released from snares; both wildebeest, zebra and on a couple of recent occasions elephant who had almost severed their trunks in these lethal wires.

The teams work on shifts of 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off. They set out at six p.m on all night anti poaching patrols, using binoculars and other simple night vision optics they are able to spot the poacher’s torchlight. Often coming into contact during the night time hours they have had relative success in apprehending individuals in the act of laying snares. After a short break they return to the field again to areas of suspected activity and now conduct foot patrols in search of recently laid snares. It is a long days work, not to be taken lightly, the teams are pulling 16 hour days for little salary in dangerous conditions. It is a continual effort and we need your help to keep them active and engaged in the field. 

Our support of them is vital and a little goes a remarkably long way;

50 USD- buys a waterproof weather proof rangers coat
250 USD- Is a de snaring team rangers monthly basic salary
500 USD – Is food for a team for a month
1000 USD – Is the cost of running a patrol vehicle for a month
3500 USD – Supports a de-snaring team for a month in the field

This year, every dollar, ever boot on the ground, every team in the field, will count more than ever before… Thank you for helping us.

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