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Re-purposed Poaching Snare Program

The ABQ BioPark is partnering with Catching Hope to conserve the endangered saola.

By Curator of Mammals Erin Flynn

January 31, 2018 - The Catching Hope: Re-purposed Poaching Snare Program is a unique, non-traditional and effective grassroots conservation program that is conducted largely by volunteers. This program aims to raise awareness of the critically endangered saola, a large mammal discovered in 1992 that has received little exposure.

This distant relative to wild cattle is found only in the wet forests of the Annamite Mountains of Laos and Vietnam and is threatened by poaching. There are so few saola that they have no value on the black market, and when they are caught they are discarded as bycatch. 

Catching Hope partners with the International Union for Conservation of Nature Saola Working Group (SWG) and supports its saola conservation efforts.
 
The SWG trains and employs local people in Laos and Vietnam to collect poaching snares from the saola's forest habitat, and sends snares to Catching Hope. They clean these poaching snares, turn them into handcrafted goods, and both sell them and use them as public outreach.
 
Profit from Catching Hope in turn supports the SWG training and employing local people to collect the poaching snares from the forest, helping not only saola, but also their neighboring species. This program provides alternative livelihoods to local people as they work toward mitigating the impact that poachers are having on the unique Annamite Mountain ecosystem, while also ensuring that these individuals are not forced to poach or do business with poachers to earn a livelihood. Approximately 100,000 poaching snares have been collected from saola habitat by the SWG teams since their program began in 2011.
 
In 2017 Catching Hope expanded to also support the local Hmong women living in and around saola habitat. Catching Hope has commissioned over $1,000 of hand-sewn, hand-embroidered fabric goods through a partnership with Cama Crafts in Laos. The commission has helped the Hmong women support their families, while profit of items created with the commissioned fabric have supported the SWG's snare removal program.
 
I am so very excited to share that the ABQ BioPark is partnering with Catching Hope!
 
The Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wis., started partnering with Catching Hope in 2014 - since then, they have had more than 500 volunteers craft with the program, have sold more than 2,000 crafts, and educated more than 3,000 members of the public about saola. An astounding $11,800 has been raised by Catching Hope and sent to the SWG to support the continued removal of poaching snares from saola habitat! This is approximately 5.5 times the average annual salary in Laos and 5.8 times the average annual salary in Vietnam.
 
Catching Hope can currently be found at Zoo Wroclaw in Poland and the following AZA institutions: Henry Vilas Zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Zoo Boise, Zoo Atlanta, and International Crane Foundation. Several other institutions are interested in carrying Catching Hope in 2018. SWG coordinator William Robichaud has presented Catching Hope crafts to government officials in Laos and Vietnam, where they are exploring the creation of local programs modeled after ours.
 
The power of this program is the story. Anyone can help make a difference. Every person that learns the story of the saola helps spread awareness. Every person that purchases a snare craft or volunteers to craft with us directly plays a role in a conservation program impacting wildlife and people across the world. 

Watch for exciting news about upcoming crafting sessions and program news at the BioPark! 

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