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Precious Noordhoek Wetlands under threat from poachers and development

The Noordhoek Wetlands is under extreme pressure not only from development, but also from poachers who set traps and snares for small animals. The Noordhoek wetlands consists of a range of plant and animal species that are indigenous or endemic to the Peninsula.

A snare found in the wetlands

Dr Andrea Marais of Noordhoek Environmental Action Group (NEAG) says, “The Noordhoek wetlands is a critical oasis for animals and plants. It is a major ecological corridor of extreme environmental importance. Last week, myself and Suzie J’Kul from ToadNUTs accompanied expert tracker Louis Liebenberg to explore the water levels in Papkuilsvlei perennial wetland, at the heart of the Noordhoek wetland. We found fresh shoe prints, animal spoor and two crude noose-type snares placed by a poacher,” she says.

“Snares of this kind can cause extended pain and suffering to many animals, not only the ones the poachers are after,” says Dr Marais. “Poachers often set as many snares as possible in the hope of catching the specific animal they want. We also found the spoor of grysbok, lizards, frogs, porcupines and snakes. We advise everyone using the wetlands to look out for these crude snares and remove them in their entirety when you find them.”

SANParks staff, SANParks Honorary Rangers and members of the community have been doing regular joint patrols in the wetlands and are aware of snaring activity. SANParks has requested that dog walkers and horse riders keep on the demarcated trails and take care of their pets so that they don’t get caught in snares. If you see a snare, please remove it immediately. Users can also report any suspicious behaviour or snaring to SANParks. SANParks will continue to monitor the area and the joint patrols are ongoing.

Animal spoor in the wetlands

Andrea says, “People who live in this area are unaware of just how magnificent the Noordhoek Wetlands is and how urgently it needs our protection. SANParks does sweeps of the area as much as they can but we need everyone’s help to keep these paths clear of traps.”

One of the permanent open water bodies under threat from the Houmoed Road Phase 1 development

The NRPA, NEAG and ToadNUTs are also concerned that the recently approved Houmoed Road Phase 1, which will cut across the wetlands will negatively impact the permanent open water bodies, remove the protective barrier of reeds and give poachers greater access to the wetlands. “If this precious natural resource collapses it will just make space for another development,” she says.

Chairperson of the Noordhoek Ratepayers Association, Brad Bing, says, “We hope that everyone in Noordhoek, residents, people who work or ride horses here, or just visit here, will help us save our precious wetlands for the sake of the animals and plants that rely on it for survival. The NRPA also has an excellent working relationship with SANParks which his hugely beneficial to valley residents as we can work together on issues like this one.”