Rangers in Cambodia’s Southern Cardamom National Park, along with the Wildlife Alliance, have removed 109,217 snares in just over six years, said Biodiversity Conservation, highlighting the scale of the poaching epidemic in Southeast Asia.
However, Nick Marx, Wildlife Alliance’s director of wildlife rescue and care, said the figure only included snares that were found and that at least double the number of traps were left undiscovered.
“Snares are set in every forest,” he said, adding that their numbers kept increasing every year. “It’s certainly not dropping,” Marx said, noting that all species were ensnared.
He speculated that the reason for such a high number of traps is that snares are easy to use and inexpensive.
He stressed “that all wildlife will ultimately be killed, including elephants, which is what is happening at present . . . because snares are cheap, easy to use, a lazy form of hunting, and not properly controlled or enforced”.
The danger of snares, Marx said, is that they are indiscriminate killers that don’t take rarity into account.
‘Little implementation of the law’
“Snares are the most indiscriminate and destructive form of hunting. They are cheap and easy, set in the thousands, blanket all forests, capture common and endangered species alike, frequently go unchecked and are therefore extremely cruel.
“Set as they are in Cambodia, the snares will wipe out every living ground mammal over time. We are seeing many elephant calves with snares attached to a leg. The pachyderms will almost certainly die and go extinct in the country.”
Marx added: “There is little implementation of the law governing snares and little or no penalties handed out to those setting the snares if they have not captured any wildlife.
“The snare scourge is not taken seriously and is perhaps an indication of the little interest authorities have in protecting our remaining wildlife.
“Frankly, for NGOs to simply increase the number of rangers employed to remove snares is expensive. The government should help more with legislation and strict penalties.”
A ranger involved in the mass-scale snare removal, who asked not be named, said: “It is difficult to crack down on the poachers as they have connections with some high-ranking officials who like to consume wild animals.
“They include senior police, military and provincial officials . . . There is a huge market for wildlife and some rangers also worked with the poachers so it is easy to catch wildlife.”
Eang Sophalleth, a spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, and Chea Sam Ang, head of the Environment Ministry’s General Directorate for Administration of Nature Conservation and Protection, said they were unaware of the report or that there was an operation to remove the snares.