Environment

From a Bush Warrior’s diary…

Michele du Plessis

Jaco Klopper, the owner of the South African Bush Warrior Association, is not a man of many words, but he has committed his life to save and protect the animals he loves so much. The following is from his posts and writings; we get a glimpse into his world – the frustrations, disappointments, heartache, joys and successes. But most of all, his love for nature.

March 5th:

“So here we go again. Looking for snares as a family pet went missing without a trace. Sad to think so many animals go missing not ever to be found again. An early start and we were in the bush. Grass wet and a fresh smell of morning sunshine… Attention to detail is an absolute must when tracking down snares. Sticking to the operational model, we soon picked up movement and the first snare. A small snare, usually stripped cable to a minimum of two wire strands. Rabbits, guinea fowl and cane rats are targeted with these small but lethal snares. Tied to a fence, these small snares have a leash length of about 5cm long. It kills the animal in the fence.

Once we find the first snare, we have an idea what to look for, as each poacher has his own way of setting up and checking the snares. We soon found another small but lethal snare. This snare is tied to a medium size branch left in walkways. The same amounts of wire strands are used…

We also found a spring snare ready to catch whatever touches the trigger. So while we are checking this one green overgrown area, not making a sound moving around, here we spot movement not far off. Mr Poacher thought we had left and proceeded to check if we missed his snares. We missed one on purpose. It’s like, dude, walk away, don’t stop now… no okay, now you have some explaining to do. We lifted 34 snares. Caught the suspect poacher red-handed. I could not believe it when I was told no steps may be taken. They will have a chat with him…”

March 3rd:

“We followed up after a snare was discovered. We have been working in the area for quite some time. We know most of the routes used to place snares in. We found loads of movement but not a snare up to that stage of the operation. One path leads to another and before we could realise, it led us into a compound area. I spotted small porcupine quills and went closer to see if I can spot more quills. Instead I found a very small piece of porcupine skin attached to a few tiny quills.

Heads up, this was my first thought. My movement was detected by a dog and soon the owner of the dog came to see why the dog was barking nonstop. He was at my side in no time, asking me what I wanted. I said, I just want to know where the porcupine came from and who slaughtered the animal and how was it caught or killed. The owner moved towards the main road insulting me verbally. I proceeded to meet with his wife who makes me smile every time I see her. She is an amazing person. She explained how they got hold of the porcupine. While we had our talk the dog’s owner returned and entered a kitchen area. We still made a joke and the next moment the guy leaps out, readying himself with death in his eyes.

I fought off the guy who attacked me with his knife, got a bit of a gash on the right thumb while blocking. Other than that a few seconds later and everything was under control. After a number of serious discussions, the employer decided no steps will be taken. More than once and at the end, the suspect poacher keeps on poaching. It’s pointless …”

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