Staggering number of snares are decimating wildlife in Greater Mekong countries | WWF
Staggering number of snares are decimating wildlife in Greater Mekong countries

Posted on 09 July 2020

Wildlife trade drives snaring and exposes humans to deadly zoonotic diseases

 A snaring crisis, driven by the wildlife trade, is decimating wildlife in the Greater Mekong countries and exposing humans to deadly zoonotic diseases, warns a new report from WWF. The report estimates that millions of snares are set  in the protected areas of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam.

These countries are at the epicentre of the regional snaring crisis, according to the report Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’s Snaring Crisis. WWF supported rangers patrol a small percentage of the protected areas in these three countries, but found and removed almost 15,000 snares in four protected areas in 2019 alone.

These rudimentary traps, often made from metal wire, twisted cable, or even nylon rope, indiscriminately maim and kill tens of thousands of wild animals that either step on or walk through them. Animals can sometimes languish for days or weeks before dying from their injuries, and in the rare case an animal escapes, they will often later die from injury or infection. 

“‘Indiscriminately killing and maiming, snares are wiping out the region's wildlife, from tigers and elephants to pangolins and palm civets, and emptying its forests. These species don’t stand a chance unless Southeast Asian governments urgently tackle the snaring crisis,” said Stuart Chapman, Lead of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative.

"Snares are also the principal threat to tigers in the region - and a major contributor to the fact they are now presumed extinct in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam. Without strong action, a snaring driven extinction wave could break across Asia."

Driven largely by the demand in urban areas for wildlife meat, often seen as a delicacy, snares impact hundreds of terrestrial mammal and bird species, including some of the region’s most threatened species, including the tiger, leopard, dhole, saola, banteng, and numerous other smaller and less known animals. 

Retrieving the dead, dying, severely injured, and seriously stressed animals caught in snares increases close contact between poachers and wildlife, thus increasing the likelihood of zoonotic pathogen spillover. Furthermore, researchers have identified many of the animals targeted by snaring, including wild pig, deer, palm civets, and pangolins, as being among the highest risk for zoonoses. 

“In addition to increasing ranger patrols for finding and removing snares as deterrence for poachers and to prevent killings, the consumer demand for wild meat, wildlife parts and products, and the thriving trade across the region that drive the snaring should be squarely tackled,” said Dr. K. Yoganand, Regional Lead for Wildlife and Wildlife Crime for WWF Greater Mekong. “National governments must provide adequate resources to the wildlife protection agencies, urgently update the wildlife trade policies to account for infectious disease risks, and shut down the cross-border trafficking of wildlife.”

Urgent actions are needed to address this threat to wildlife, natural ecosystems and public health. The age of indifference towards wildlife and commodification of nature should end now in favour of restoring functioning ecosystems with their thriving wildlife communities.

Read the report. For more information or media inquries, please contact Mia Signs
Communications Manager for Illegal Wildlife Trade, WWF Greater Mekong.

Snared palm civet found in the Saola Nature Reserve in Vietnam.
© Bui Huu Vinh/WWF-Viet Nam
Snare traps found in Vietnam.
© Denise Stilley/WWF-Vietnam
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