I am not going to summarize the story in much detail here, because it would be far better if you read the original. However, as a brief synopsis, people have eaten wild game (bushmeat) in Africa for millennia. Snares are a cheap and effective way to catch game, since they can be constructed from easily-accessible materials and work while the hunter is away.
Unfortunately, snares are also indiscriminate and brutal. They catch any animal that is unlucky enough to walk into them, regardless of which species is being targeted, and often cause horrible injuries and painful deaths. In addition, the commercial demand for bushmeat in Africa is growing: what was once a way to survive (and still is in some cases) has now become big business. There are consequently more snares in the landscape than before.
Snares harm lions in two key ways. First, the cats are often directly killed or maimed by them. Second, the explosion of commercial bushmeat hunting in Africa has depleted lions’ natural prey. Some lion prides are thus forced to roam wider in search of food – or to attack livestock – both of which increase their odds of being killed by humans.
Furthermore, poachers in parts of Africa are directly targeting lions more heavily than before. Lion bones, fangs, claws, and other body parts appear to be sought after in both Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) and traditional African folk medicine, thus providing heightened economic incentives for killing them.
National Geographic’s original story contains far more information. Not only does Nuwer explore this worrisome phenomenon in fine detail, but Winter’s photographs capture the brutal realities of lion snaring in a hauntingly beautiful fashion. It will only take about four minutes to read the article, so why not follow the link below to check it out?