In just four years our Stop the Snares Project has reduced the number of snares in south Bwindi Impenetrable National Park from 800 to virtually zero. This has removed a terrible danger for the last remaining mountain gorillas. It must continue.
“We never went to school, we were always too busy working in the forest,” explains a former poacher who wants to remain anonymous. “Yes, there were risks – we could be arrested or even shot – but we needed to eat and to provide for our families and this was the only way.”
Crude traps are laid on the forest floor by desperately poor poachers to catch bush antelope, pigs and duikers. But young mountain gorillas are as inquisitive as toddlers.
They don’t see the danger until their wrist or ankle is caught fast by a snare made of rusty clutch wire. The more they struggle to free themselves, the tighter the noose gets, digging into their flesh. Many starve to death or die from blood poisoning and gangrene.
Most poachers don’t eat gorillas and they don’t want to catch them – they want to feed their families. Poacher reform commits ex-poachers to farming with sustainable methods for their whole community. They burn their spears and traps in exchange for a piece of land to farm.
Their excess produce can be sold, seeds stored for the next season, and their children can at last go to school.
Our success so far
- We reduced snares in 80 square kilometres of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, from 800 to virtually zero
- Two fields, each the size of four football pitches, now feed 400 people
- The community was able to buy and rear 208 sheep in 2016
Urgent funds are needed to:
- Secure two more fields and basic farming tools
- Create a reliable water supply using simple bamboo drip irrigation
- Build a crop store for surplus vegetables, which can be used for seed the following year
- Educate and train people in sustainable, organic farming methods that can be passed on
- Provide transport to market, where extra vegetables can be sold and the profit invested back into the community