A multi-pronged approach to address snaring in the Western Cape

Published: 19 June 2023

The illegal practice of setting snares to hunt animals is a prevalent and widespread problem in the Western Cape. It poses a serious threat to biodiversity in the region and is directly and indirectly threatening leopards. Over the past few years, the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) has adopted and is further developing a multi-pronged strategy including research, conservation and education elements to grapple this complex issue. Thanks to a new partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the CLT is able to move forward with urgently needed strategies to sensitively but effectively address the threat. 

Snare patrols

At the end of 2022, the CLT collaborated with Global Conservation Force and local conservation organisations (CapeNature, Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, Greater Simonsberg Conservancy, Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy and Drakenstein Municipality) to co-lead intensive snare patrols in the Cape Winelands. Over the course of 17 days, 165 snares were removed from the landscape – highlighting the severity of the problem. 

Further to this, some conservancies and landowners have also taken initiative to lead snare patrols on their member properties. We strongly support this and encourage more properties to do the same.

Outreach & education

Education and awareness raising are two of the most valuable tools in the fight against snares. Snaring is a big problem in many agricultural areas and the CLT team has presented several information sessions aimed at both farm labourers and managers. In addition, a number of schools in core leopard areas have received special lessons on this topic. Key messaging includes the value and necessity of wildlife in the fynbos, the destructiveness and consequences of hunting with snares, and how to look for, remove and prevent snares. 

The CLT team has also led a number of in-depth workshops involving youth groups and local property owners, all aimed at raising awareness about this important threat and empowering individuals to take action.

Development of awareness resources

Further to the outreach to farms, the CLT, with support from the Mouton Foundation, developed simple snare awareness posters for use at properties with a high flux of labourers. The posters are free and available in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa, and can be used in conjunction with short informative video clips, also created by the CLT. Landowners and managers of agricultural enterprises are encouraged to share these videos with their employees during staff induction and orientation. Snare awareness posters have been printed and distributed across many demographic groups, and requests for these resources are increasing.

The CLT also has a ‘Guide to Snare Patrols’ booklet and a ‘Landowner’s Guide to Monitoring and Preventing Hunting with Snares’ available.

Snare research

In 2019-2020, the CLT led systematic snare patrols on farms bordering protected areas. Apart from removing snares, these patrols were aimed at collecting data about the physical properties of snares, where and how they were set, and several environmental variables that could possibly determine snare setting. This research was analysed and published in the Journal of Nature Conservation (Kendon et al 2022, Evaluating determinants of wire-snare poaching risk in the Boland Mountain Complex of South Africa). The results from this study provide valuable insights that better equip property owners and conservation authorities to tackle the incidence of snares in the region.

In addition, drawing on previous research by the CLT, we have set out to explore the social science aspects of snaring – including food security and how people acquire food, what motivates them to set snares, and communities’ reception of and suggestions about potential solutions and alternatives – across multiple locations. The results of this research will hopefully enable us to design human-centred sustainable alternatives to snaring in collaboration with local communities.

The snaring issue was also discussed in a special interactive session led by the CLT at the inaugural Global Leopard Conference held in March 2023. Over 300 delegates representing 59 countries attended. Snaring was a recurring theme throughout the 5 days of the conference, indicating that conservationists globally face similar challenges in addressing this complex threat. The lessons we learn and the tools we develop through our Western Cape focussed project could have global relevance, providing benefits far beyond provincial and even national borders.

Citizen science database for snare records

Finally, the CLT maintains an online reporting platform for members of the public to contribute to our research and upload records of snares they find in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape. Go to app.capeleopard.org.za


The Cape Leopard Trust’s multi-pronged snare mitigation project is supported by many organisations and funders. A big thank you in particular to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Mouton Foundation, Global Conservation Force, the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, Wilderness Foundation Africa and Oak Foundation for helping us to achieve the outputs described in this update.