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Traps That Once Snared Uganda’s Wildlife are Turned into Intricate Art By ‘Snares to Wares’


In Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, a non-profit organization is helping local artisans make a living by selling sculptures made from the wiring of poachers’ traps.

Located in northwestern Uganda, the country’s largest national park is a hotspot for poaching, and the most common method is a wire trap that is closed around an animal’s leg.

Most of the poaching is done for meat, as the communities surrounding the park are some of the poorest in the country and most of the animals hunted are smaller herbivores.

Traps to merchandise helps local people develop the eye of their artists and the hand of craftsmen to weave hundreds of locally caught traps into intricate wire sculptures of the park’s wildlife.

Traps to merchandise

The initiative was started by Tutilo Mudumbu, a National Geographic explorer, and Robert Montgomery, a wildlife ecologist at Michigan State University, and now has 620 artisans on board who sell an average of 800 sculptures a month.

RELATED: Rhino poaching plummets 53% during closures, prolonging 5 years of success in South Africa

Mudumbu was conducting research on the use and distribution of traps in the park a few years ago when he came up with the idea. In an interview with Nat Geo, explains that for most of the poor inhabitants around the park, wildlife represents a threat, a nuisance, as they eat or trample crops when they leave the park boundaries, or a mystery.

He was surprised to learn after starting Traps to merchandise Many locals did not really know what the animals in the park were like, so he helped sponsor excursions to Murchison Falls, named for a narrow waterfall that forces the enormity of the Nile River into a narrow channel.

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There, locals study the animals, see how they behave, and allow their inner artist to take shape as they observe the park’s lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, leopards, wild boars, and more.

Murchison Falls has experienced a dramatic resurrection over the past decade, with a substantial improvement in the patrolling and surveillance capabilities of the rangers, and also in the capabilities of the veterinary units, all of which led to a doubling of the number of herbivores.

Predator populations are also increasing, with a captured poacher conviction rate of nearly 97% due to another investment project in a wildlife legal department within the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Ready to see some of the Snares to Wares artwork?

Of intricate lions …

Traps to merchandise

To stylish giraffes …

Traps to merchandise

Each work of art …

Traps to merchandise

And the sculpture of Ugandan artisans …

Traps to merchandise

Help the locals earn a living …

Traps to merchandise

And animals to live in peace.

CC, Mara 1

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