On 10 May the Wildlife Works team at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Kenya, witnessed a conservation success story; our rangers led the rescue of a young wild buffalo from a poaching snare and set it free to join his herd.
The 500,000 acres of land that make up the Wildlife Works project area are patrolled by 85 Wildlife Works Rangers, led by Head Ranger Eric Sagwe. During a routine daily morning patrol, a Special Operations ranger group discovered some unusual tracks and followed them deep into the bush. The team found a young buffalo snared in trap set by poachers for bush meat.
The bush meat trade is illegal in Kenya, however rural communities occasionally still practice it for personal and commercial consumption. Since Wildlife Works started operating in the area in 1997, incidents of bush meat poaching have gone down to almost none, thanks to increased patrolling, local job creation and community awareness.
A team was immediately assembled of Wildlife Works’ rangers and the local Mobile Veterinary Unit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which is called in such incidents to tranquilize the snared animal and treat any injuries. The team set off into the bush with haste in order to remove the snare as soon as possible.
Head Wildlife Works Ranger Eric watches while the vet prepares the tranquilizer drug
Vet prepares the tranquilizer gun
When the group came across the young buffalo, they saw that luckily, the snare was only caught around his horns, causing no major injuries. The buffalo was feisty, charging at the trucks in an attempt to break free. After the vet successfully tranquilized the bull with a dart gun, the team was able to safely approach him to remove the snare.
The buffalo calms down after being tranquilized
From that point the team moved with speed and precision: simultaneously detaching the wire snare from around his horns, treating the skin on his head, removing the trap from the tree, dousing his back with water to keep him cool, and holding his nose up from the dust by his horns.
The vet also inspected the buffalo’s teeth and was therefore able to determine that he was about 2.5 years old.
Within a few minutes the operation was complete and the vet brought the buffalo back around with a second injection, while the crew watched from a safe distance. The buffalo stood up with a slight wobble and then darted off into the bush to find his herd.
The back of the rescued buffalo the moment he woke up and ran off into the bush
This was a lucky encounter; it was lucky that the team found the buffalo before his human hunter or perhaps a hyena or lion, that the snare caught him so that he was not injured, and that he was mature enough to survive without his mother.
Said Head Ranger Eric, “I was impressed by my rangers skill at tracking, the quick response of the KWS unit and that we managed to save a life, which is the most important thing.”
The successful rescue is a testament to the skill and dedication of the Wildlife Works Rangers, who work tirelessly to prevent and track illegal activities in the area, such as poaching and charcoal production. The also incident highlights the challenges of conservation in areas with human-wildlife conflict, where local people live in close proximity to important wildlife and hunt it for food to feed their families. Thanks to the team for all their hard work!