In blazing heat Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve (FOBNR) led members of the public through the reserve on a three-hour snare-clearing exercise on Sunday.
The temperature had climbed to 35 degrees Celsius at 1 pm on Sunday according to SA Weather Service forecaster Julius Mahlangu, who said a cooler 26 degrees Celsius is expected for today.
FOBNR founder Peter West said they had found the carcass of a snared wildebeest, which had died in a snare some time ago and although “not too many actual snares” were recovered, the search teams found a lot of wire used to make snares and other paraphernalia such as blankets and kit bags.
They also came across a man living illegally in the game reserve who admitted to being a subsistence poacher.
“He was an old man and told us all he wants is to go back to Bulwer where his family lives. Members of Msunduzi Munipality’s security have previously removed him from the reserve on at least three occasions.
“After much discussion it was decided not to arrest and charge him but instead we did a collection and raised his taxi fare home. He was taken to the taxi rank and his fare to Bulwer was paid for,” said West.
He said it was thought to be possible the man might have acted as an informer for organised bush meat poachers of whom FOBNR recently found evidence on the property, including knives and rounds of live ammunition.
The snare-clearing exercise was launched after two separate incidents last week when live Zebra were rescued from snares, and a newly snared Impala carcass was recovered, highlighting the fact that the Impala numbers had dropped in the reserve from around 150 to 20 odd.
Sunday’s event was attended by four different groups of Ezemvelo KZN honourary officers, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (which owns part of the reserve), Msunduzi Municipality, the SAPS and police reservists.
West said FOBNR thanked Msunduzi Municipality for its support for the various projects that are being undertaken to rehabilitate the nature reserve as deliberations continue to have it formally proclaimed in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.
“One of the volunteers who cannot be named for professional reasons brought along a trained German Shepherd tracker dog along that has worked with anti-poaching in Umfolozi and other game reserves in KZN.
“The support we as FOBNR have received from the members of the public has been absolutely phenomenal this past year since we originally raised awareness of the animals that were starving on the reserve.”
He said donations from the public poured in and at the at the height of the crisis R100 000 in donations was received to feed the animals, with R10 000 being donated recently towards fencing.
Local artist Vic Grobbler raised R1 000 for the Bisley Valley Nature Reserve Conservation Trust at yesterday’s snare clearing event from the sales of his sketches, the proceeds of which all go towards the Trust.
Anyone interested in buying his sketches are welcome to contact Peter West at 0616608123.
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The rehabilitation of a bird hide and work to clear overgrown trails for hiking in the reserve are ongoing, along with patrols by volunteers who keep their eyes open for snares or injured game.