While this gaur could not be saved, fortunately her suffering was ended by the anesthetic. Other snared animals are not so lucky. Their chances of survival are low, according to Wildlife Alliance’s Director of Wildlife Rescue and Care Nick Marx who attended to the snared gaur. “Most animals caught in snares die due to their injuries,” said Marx. When snared animals are found, most are dead already. “They die slow and painful deaths,” he said “either in the snare or from their injuries after breaking free like this gaur.”
The loss of this gaur is bad news for the species, which globally is classified as Vulnerable. According to the International Union of the Conservation of Nature, the number of gaurs in the wild may be as low as 6,000. In Cambodia, gaurs are extremely rare according to Marx. “It is unknown how many there are left, but very few,” he said. Their scarcity is due to snaring. “The reason their numbers are so low is because of hunting, which is usually conducted using snares.”
And it’s not just gaurs that are threatened by snares. “Snares are very destructive,” said Marx “because they can kill animals indiscriminately, including threatened species.” In forests across Southeast Asia, snaring has reached crisis levels. In Cambodia, the impact of snares on wildlife is huge. Snares are the primary reason for the disappearance of many wild animals, including tigers.
We are appalled that snares catch so many animals in Cambodia, including Endangered species like elephants. Baby elephants are frequently snared and subsequently die, and at least 50% of the young calves recorded on camera traps are found with serious snare wounds on their legs and trunks.
Wildlife Alliance rescues many wild animals around the country. Last year, our Wildlife Rescue and Care team were called to rescue three snared banteng in Kampong Speu and Odor Meanchey province, but all of them died before we could reach them.
To combat threats to wildlife, conservation NGOs work with the Ministry of Environment to patrol forests and remove snares. For example, Wildlife Alliance supports the Cardamom Forest Rangers, who protect the Cardamoms Rainforest Landscape. Last year, rangers in seven protected areas in the Cardamoms removed 25,886 snares.
This important conservation work has been recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia. In 2014, Wildlife Alliance’s Nick Marx was awarded with the Royal Order of Sahametrie for rescuing Cambodian wildlife. “I am very honoured to receive this award,” said Marx “because of this, I feel it is my duty to inform the government and the Cambodian people about the damage that snares do.” For Marx, the risk of snares is clear. “If strong laws are not applied very soon to stop this method of hunting, Cambodian forests will have zero wildlife left.”