A ranger spots movement, a sudden blur in the bush. Is it creature or human? Four legs or two? Discovered, the poachers flee, abandoning camp, fire still warm. They’ve left a rifle; blood indicates they’ve been successful in their poaching. Seeing these all too familiar signs, the experienced rangers jump into action, hunters become the hunted. The extraordinary tracking skills of the rangers guide their pursuit and with incredible courage they track the poachers. Make no mistake rangers risk their lives on these patrols as increasingly poachers are armed. The rangers will also painstakingly sweep the area to remove any wire snares.
Photo by François D’Elbée
Snare poaching uses wire to trap animals and, whilst most often intended to obtain bush meat, the wire is indiscriminate in its killing. Lions and wild dogs can get caught and so too can elephant’s trunks, giraffe’s legs, anything that moves is at risk. Once victim is ensnared the poacher’s trap slowly tightens maiming and eventually killing it’s victim in the most painful way.You might not have heard of Zambia’s ‘Department of National Parks and Wildlife’ or DNPW as we call them. Perhaps you don’t know of their endless effort stopping poachers and collecting wire snares to protect the wildlife here. With more than a hundred DNPW rangers based here in the Luangwa Valley alone it is they in collaboration with Conservation South Luangwa who carry out the vital anti-poaching patrols every day. It is a constant battle to remove snares from the wild before it kills.
This is where Mulberry Mongoose comes in by turning the brutal confiscated wire snares into striking jewellery which tells the story of snare poaching and gives back to help fund anti-poaching patrols. DNPW kindly allows us to collect wire snares from their base where it is piled up in ugly mountains of grey savagery. Our local, courageous team take great pride in knowing that they are helping to protect the wildlife here for their children and the generations to come.
On 31st July it is World Rangers Day which goes some way to give the DNPW rangers, and rangers across the globe, the recognition they deserve. These noble guardians of wildlife risk their lives to protect what is important to them. Whilst there is still much work to be done I feel so inspired and hopeful thinking of all the rangers and conservationists working to protect our wildlife. Education, law enforcement and on the ground action are all helping to reduce instances of poaching in national parks. Their passion and progress is something to be celebrated.
Written by Antonia Gillett