Contract workers caught with snares in Baakens Valley

The Baakens Valley, Port Elizabeth
The Baakens Valley, Port Elizabeth
Image: Google Maps

Metro police confronted a team of municipal contract workers this week who had allegedly been setting snares in the Baakens Valley.

The team had been working on a sewerage line beneath Gazania Avenue, Sunridge Park, on the Upper Guineafowl Trail.

The officers confiscated the snares and reported the matter to the directorates overseeing the project, municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said yesterday.

Baakens Valley Preservation Trust member Vincent Jearey said he and his wife, Mariette, who often walked in the area, had come across the work team three weeks ago.

“They were using cables to drag buckets through the sewer to clear it and they said they had been awarded the contract by the metro.

“We were really pleased because that section of the sewer has been giving trouble for ages.”

On April 30, however, a group of the workers was spotted carrying three snares and Jearey demanded to know what they were doing.

“They threw them down and walked off.”

On Sunday, the Jeareys and fellow trust stalwart Steff Schenk went into the area to sweep for snares and quickly found four – two set in the bush close to a shelter erected by the work team, and two lying next to the shelter.

The snares were made of galvanised wire and the active ones had been set over animal paths, he said. “With the active ones, one end was anchored on a branch, the other tied in a slip knot.

“The animal puts its head through the noose, which tightens, and the more it struggles the tighter it gets.”

Schenk videoed the snares before they cut them loose. By then, a team of metro police had responded to their alert.

“Two workers who had been at the shop arrived back and the metro police spoke to them for some time,” he said.

“They took pictures of the snares and also the state of the camp. The covers were off the sewer manholes and they were not cordoned off.

“There were also drums of inflammable diesel for the machine they were using to drag the cables and buckets through the pipe, standing right next to their cooking fire.

“Although there was a mobile toilet, the guys had been using the bush all around the camp – in an area where cyclists and hikers come through on the Upper Trail.

“So it was a bunch of environmental, safety and health bylaws that they were breaking.”

Wildlife activist Arnold Slabbert said snaring was an illegal hunting method. It was also illegal to hunt in the metro without a permit.

Mniki confirmed the response of the metro police and said the matter was being taken further.

“It was reported to the Animal Anti-Cruelty League and our own health and sanitation departments, who will tighten the screws on service providers and how they do their work.”