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article imageOp-Ed: A warthog story in South Africa Special

By Alex Volker     May 31, 2009 in Travel
It was the second day in a row that I photographed a prime specimen warthog boar, boasting a magnificent pair of curved tusks, the biggest I’ve seen in months.
It was only on this day after zooming in on one of my photographs that I noted something amiss. A snare, a flimsy cable snare probably set for a duiker or Impala, was torn off its anchor by the brute strength of this animal and twined around its thick neck. The warthog was standing on a grassy verge next to a public road. Like a cry for help, returning to the same spot during the cool periods of the day, hoping to be released from the wire’s tightening grip.
At that time I worked for a private anti-poaching unit in the Limpopo province. There was a bit of a dilemma as how to handle the situation. A warthog is not endangered and will not be contained by a fence. Game farmers were culling warthog on their farms and to relocate it may have been meaningless. Despite that plans were underway to dart the animal and find it a new home.
The easiest solution would have been purely to shoot the animal. To leave it to suffer daily did not sit right with anybody, yet what were the choices? The decision was made to dart it and relocate the pig, but that was much easier said than done. Every time somebody came into range the warthog ran into the thicket.
Days passed without it being seen and it was as if somebody had shot it, be it a poacher or game farmer. Then it would reappear and graze near the road where I had first seen it. Eventually he did not come back, after many attempts to rid him of his suffering and getting various people involved to remove the snare or resolve the matter in the most humane manner.
That was the last time I saw it, but the memory remains. To me this animal became a symbol. Poaching, especially poaching with snares, leaves so many tormented victims in their path. Some die a horrible death and others are left to suffer. I have seen numerous such examples and it leaves me with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.
That warthog is probably dead now, an uncounted statistic of the victims of poaching. Most people are well aware of environmental crime, but relate it to rhinos, elephants, cycads, abalone or expensive game. To me this very warthog is a symbol of the need to create an awareness, to educate our younger generations and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Poaching with snares, Poaching south africa, Warthog
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