By Hannah Stevens @hannah_shewans
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Videographer / director: KaiNav
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Nick Johnson
Editor: Joshua Douglas
In January, KaiNav Conservation Foundation’s S.N.A.R.E team were undertaking a routine illegal snare clearing operation in Tswaing Meteorite Crater Nature Reserve in Gauging Province, South Africa when they spotted the zebra struggling in the snare.
Calling in wildlife veterinarians to assist with darting and treatment of the animal, the KaiNav team kept a watchful eye on the zebra for four hours until the veterinarian team arrived.
KaiNav Executive Director Kailen Padayachee said: “The zebra was trapped in a snare. A snare is simply a trap made from simpler wire, tension cables, bicycle brake wire and even nylon rope and plastic bags woven into rope.
“These are usually tied into a noose and are used to catch a wide variety of animals ranging from birds and small mammals to large cats and even rhino.
“Snares are widely used throughout Asia and Africa and are used by both subsistence and commercial poachers. Snares are not selective and therefore animals are often unintentionally captured.”
Once the vets arrived they crept up on the group to dart the injured animal from the back of their pick- up truck.
Kailen continued: “The veterinarian darting the zebra needed to be as close as possible to ensure a successful shot. The zebras started to become restless and suspicious of the vehicle moving closer and began to scatter to escape from the team.
“The injured male was kept in sight and darted successfully, at which point he trotted a short distance before the drugs took effect and he became drowsy and lay down.”
The team immediately moved in to keep the zebra upright to protect its airway as they treated it.
To keep him calm, the team covered his eyes with a cloth and poured water over his skin to prevent heat stress during the 35 minutes it took to free the zebra from the snare and treat its wounds with antibiotics.
Kailen said: “Once the antidote was administered to the zebra, it took about four minutes for him to totally recover. He immediately got to his hooves and galloped off to rejoin his zeal.
“Watching him run off was one of the most incredible feelings. At that very moment we saw the fruits of our labour, the reason we do what we do.
“All the long hard days in the bush removing these traps made so much more sense. We felt vindicated in our efforts to protect Africa’s wildlife!”
The snare that almost cost the zebra its life will be used in KaiNav Conservation Foundation’s SNARE Art program - a community development program that uses snares and other poaching equipment removed from natural areas to create artwork to inspire and educate people about the use of illegal snares by poachers.
Kailen said: “The animal was treated with antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection but zebras are very resilient animals, so no further treatment was necessary.
“The S.N.A.R.E team has since conducted a S.N.A.R.E operation at the same reserve and we are happy to announce that he was spotted again and the wound seems to be healing nicely.”