The high demand for animal traps
PIGG’S PEAK – The fight against poaching is facing an uphill battle as animal traps are being readily sold to members of the public.
This reporter has since established that these animal traps are selling like hot cakes in local hardware shops, particularly in the northern Hhohho.
The traps, known as gin traps or ‘Ingucu’, are often used by poachers to illegally trap animals in the various game reserves around the country.
Last year saw a number of poaching incidents on the increase in the country including the killing of two rhinos.
The gin traps are sold for only E222.95.
An investigation conducted by this publication revealed that the traps are mostly bought by people with the intention of using them for poaching.
In one of the hardware shops that were visited over the weekend, a sales representative confirmed that they always run out of stock as the traps are in high demand.
He also disclosed that most of the buyers bought in bulk.
At the Pigg’s Peak branch of Build It, a sales representative said they were left with only one in stock because they are in such high demand. He said the devices are mostly bought by people who live in the areas next to game reserves.
"These gadgets are in high demand and we always run of stock. As you can see, we are left with only one and we have to order more as they are in high demand," he said.
Apart from gin traps poachers often place snares to trap animals.
Conservationists have decried the increase in the poaching rate in the country.
‘Amend the law’
MBABANE – Conservationists have called for the law to be amended to include the prohibition of the sale and possession of gin traps.
Responding to a query from this newspaper on the availability of traps to the public, Big Game Parks said while possession of a gin trap per se is not an offence, the moment one uses it for the purposes of capturing or destroying game, an offence is being committed.
"When somebody is arrested for capturing or destroying game with a gin trap, and it can be reasonably proven that the person bought the gin trap from a particular shop, then the shop owner could, with some good investigation and prosecution, be charged for aiding and abetting the commission of an offence against the Game Act.
"This is especially so as gin traps are almost exclusively used for trapping game — and we all know this – especially those who sell them and those who use them!" said BGP.
However, Big Game Parks has in the past approached this problem from a different perspective.
Some years back, it came to their attention that a store near Big Bend was selling gin traps. The shop owner was sen-sitised to the ethical concerns of using gin traps and the possible legal implications. The shop then discontinued selling gin traps which is significant due to the large, mainly rural community that this shop supplies.
Gin trapping has become a highly controversial subject globally. This is because of the highly unselective nature of gin traps, as well as the extreme cruelty inflicted when animals are caught in a gin trap.
In most instances these traps close with enough force to shatter the leg bone of most animals and humans. In these cases, the animal often rips itself free, leaving its foot in the gin trap or when a predator is caught, they tend to chew through the leg, effectively self-amputating their paw.