National Geographic: Snaring is now the Dominant Threat to Africa’s Lions

Lions like this female are increasingly falling prey to an indiscriminate killer: snares. Lion Eyes by Jeremy Vandel. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I recently read another great story from National Geographic. In it, author Rachel Nuwer and photographer Steve Winter detail the rise of the new dominant threat to African lions: snaring.

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?

Click Here for the Original Story from National Geographic 

25 Thoughts

    1. Well, within many wildlife reserves managers and rangers do try to remove snares. But enforcing anti-hunting rules can be difficult – and expensive. Hopefully, as more people learn about how damaging snaring can be to animals like lions, then more attention and resources will be given to community outreach and patrols to remove snares.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea, it all seems to be a matter of scale. If only a few people were engaging in these traditional medicinal practices, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. Also, there are just so many more threats to wildlife than there were before – all of which confound the problem.

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      1. Scale is definitely an issue but even just one person doing it can lead to catstrophe in a particular area.

        I think if as humans we can figure out how to put men on the moon and create internet magic, it really shouldn’t be rocket science for us to preserve life here on Earth.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Very true: one person depleting enough resources from a small enough area can be disastrous as well.

          Haha! I love how you used the men on the moon argument, because I use it all the time. Perhaps it comes down to the priorities of those in power, which partly (but not directly) derive from our collective priorities?

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          1. Priorities is definitely the issue, but also willful ignorance. I suppose there’s more glory in discovering the unknown abroad than trying to understand what’s going on right here. Trouble is, understanding what’s going on right here is far more useful. Who knows what cures might be hidden in our oceans? Sea salt can’t be that awesome for nothing 🤣

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  1. There is this really popular restaurant we used to go to called The Carnivore and they did have wild game meat on their menus ..crocodiles, zebras impalas, ostrich and the likes but a ban was imposed by the government on wild game meat, which I’m glad they did.
    I think the only bush meat they serve now is from farms eg ostrich & crocodiles but generally wild animal meat doesn’t belong on menus

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad to hear that the Kenyan government’s doing something about this. I’m generally okay with farm-raised game meat, since I doubt there’s any snaring involved, but I guess it’d be hard to tell how a wild animal was caught; so, illegally-harvested game could always be marketed as farm-raised without some sort of strict verification process.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Just letting people know what’s going on is the best way to start. There are also a number of organizations that are working to address the many threats to lions: Panthera and the National Geographic Society are two of the best. Donating to either of them would definitely help (I’ve included links below).

      Also, should you ever have the chance to purchase wild game meat from Africa, don’t – unless you know that it was obtained ethically.

      Panthera:

      https://www.panthera.org/initiative/project-leonardo

      National Geographic:

      https://www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/big-cats-initiative/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. News like this always crushes me but then I remember there are people out there who are passionate about this and are trying to spread the word and do something to counteract all the negative stuff in the world. Thanks for posting this :)

    Liked by 1 person

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