More than 200 square miles of land in southern Africa is dedicated to Malawi’s Liwonde National Park. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which helps safeguard the park’s wildlife, calls the area a “haven” for over 500 elephants, more than 600 bird species, and countless hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and other mammals, fish and reptiles. But this haven is surrounded by 17 million people, packed into country roughly half the size of the United Kingdom. The dense population results in food insecurity and resource scarcity. Those factors, in turn, drive people to illegal animal poaching for both food and income.
This is why snare traps are left in and around Liwonde, aiming to catch smaller animals, but endangering them all. According to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, more than 18,000 animals are killed annually by just 1,000 of these wire devices. One young bull elephant in September of 2014 came very close to contributing to the death toll numbers. Instead, this elephant caught in a snare, found himself being graciously helped by a group of humans who wanted nothing more than to help save his life.