Nairobi Park Diary: The poacher's snare

TORTUROUS: Hyena with snare. Photo/GARETH JONES
TORTUROUS: Hyena with snare. Photo/GARETH JONES

It was early in the morning as we drove towards the Kingfisher Picnic site area, when suddenly the shape of a spotted hyena lying down in a side road became clear as we approached.

The hyena was clearly in great agony and looked to be in need of immediate help. As we observed, there was a thick steel cable snare tightly bound over its open mouth and neck, with the snare cutting deep into the flesh causing serious injury. What a sad sad sight to see, especially as hyena sightings in the Nairobi Park are fairly rare.

Thankfully, Trish, a lady who really cares about wildlife in the Nairobi National Park also arrived within a minute, and called the KWS vet team to come and help. However, being a Sunday there was a delayed response, and to our frustration when the team did arrive with a dart gun. The hyena quickly dived into a storm water drain, and then ran into thick bush. We left hoping the hyena would receive appropriate treatment to either be healed or put out of its misery. The hyenas that live in the Nairobi Park live an elusive life due to persecution over many years, and live in small family groups usually with a den.

Spotted hyenas have a reputation for being scavengers. However, they play a vital role in nature by cleaning dead remains of animals, and in so doing reduce possibilities of diseases. In Nairobi, hyenas do wander out of the park and forage for food at night, often with tragic consequences such as poisoning and being snared. Their eerie “whoop….whoop" call is often heard late at night in some residential areas. In other parts of Africa, hyenas are so bold that they even hunt live animals in packs.

Poaching is an act that progressively destroys wildlife ecosystems, and needs to be prevented through education and preventative action controls.

Nairobi National Park is open daily from 6am to 7pm. For more information see