The greatest threat to wildlife in many parts of Southeast Asia is nearly invisible and indiscriminate in killing or injuring any ground-dwelling wildlife that crosses its path. Snares are one of the most destructive hunting techniques, cheap and easy to produce, and often made from widely available household items like rope, wires, and cables. Primarily used to capture animals for the illegal wildlife trade and sale in urban markets, they are devastating the region’s wildlife populations and at present times, even more than habitat loss and degradation, contributing to the wildlife extinction crisis in Southeast Asia.
Over 200,000 snares were removed from just five protected areas in Southeast Asia between 2010 and 2015. A staggering sum but only a fraction of the estimated tens of millions of snares set each year. Difficult to detect for humans as well, it’s no wonder snares are resulting in widespread defaunation (the large-scale loss of wild animals), and causing potentially faster extinction of certain species.
Snares also negatively impact local communities as they drive a loss of biodiversity in the forests and impact ecosystem services which people depend on. A functioning ecosystem is crucial to maintaining the natural resources local people depend on for livelihoods and health like clean water, food, and wood, all while helping to mitigate climate change. Additionally, handling and removing the animals caught in snares could potentially increase people’s risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases. The snared wildlife and wild meat are sold in urban market locations and restaurants where the risk of transmission to humans increases many fold. Much of the wildlife targeted by snares are also mammal species that are among the highest risk of transmitting zoonotic diseases to humans, especially when the animals’ immune systems are compromised due to injury and stress.