Snare Mountain, Uganda, Elephants, Stop the Snares!, Murchison Falls, poaching,

Snare Mountain

The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) is sharing exclusive photos by world-renowned photojournalist Paul Hilton dubbed “Snare Mountain,” a massive pile of wire snares and leg-hold traps confiscated last year as part of the Murchison Falls Recovery Programme. This massive pile represents a growing form of poaching and the significant challenge facing wildlife rangers.

In the ongoing recovery of Murchison Falls National Park led by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF) and supported by IEF and other partner donors, anti-poaching patrols confiscated over 12 tons of leg-hold traps and wire snares in Murchison Falls National Park in 2022 alone. Not just confined to Uganda, these implements of destruction are decimating wildlife populations in other regions of Africa as well as in Asia.

Snare Mountain was created by photographer Paul Hilton to illustrate the challenges facing wildlife, habitats, and those who seek to protect them. Snares are indiscriminate killers, crushing the legs of lions and giraffe, maiming adult elephants, and even injuring rangers. According to Corporal Patrick Owachgiu, UWA Ranger, the number of leg-hold traps and wire snares is far greater than the image showcases. UWA, with UCF and IEF’s support, has removed and destroyed at least 10 times the amount featured in the Snare Mountain photo. Many of the leg-hold traps used to snare elephants and buffalo cost over $80 each, far beyond the finances of local poachers, pointing to well-financed poaching syndicates working across the landscape.

“We inherited Murchison Falls National Park from decades of war and the Lord’s Resistance Army terror,” said Sam Mwandha, Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority. UCF, IEF and other project partners “have helped us recover the park, wildlife populations and tourism. The highly endangered Rothschild giraffes are up from 400 to 2000, and we have 80 percent of the world’s population! Lions and elephants are also increasing nicely. Thanks to our wonderful partners supporting what we actually need, we can continue protecting for future generations to enjoy, and to be employed around.”

“Paul’s images show the brutal determination of the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers and our own supporting teams,” said Michael Keigwin MBE, Founder of the Uganda Conservation Foundation. “Every snare and trap will have killed before, and now can’t again. The Rangers have generated one of the greatest recoveries of any National Park in Africa, a renaissance that can spread with greater support.”

“Snare Mountain represents a significant challenge but not an unsurmountable one,” said Michael Fouraker President of IEF, “Over the past 10 years IEF has supported the construction of 15 ranger stations, a veterinary facility, and the Joint Operating Command Center (JOCC) which coordinates all of Murchison’s ranger and security operations. Recovered snares are used in the construction to fortify the foundations of these ranger posts, eliminating the possibility they can ever be used again. These efforts and more are helping Uganda return to its pre-war glory of being one of the very best places for wildlife tourism in all of Africa.”

Snare Mountain is a striking image that holds so much more than an incredible amount of traps and snares; it holds Uganda’s past and signals her future where with your continued support wildlife will be protected and thrive.

Learn more about IEF’s work in Uganda here.