Protect Wildlife


The main reason for the decline of species world wide, is the loss of habitat.

Poaching is also a huge


“To rehabilitate a forest and provide a sanctuary for wildlife was a tiny gesture, but a huge undertaking, to at least do something, however small it may be.”

~ Janet Cuthbertson ~


Snares that we retrieved

Our challenge to prevent poaching

One of the most daunting tasks we have is to protect the wildlife in/around our reserve by preventing poaching.  Sadly this cruel and illegal action is always a threat as not only are syndicates moving South from Northern Parts of Southern Africa, but local bush meat is always been seen as a free type of commodity. The bush meat trade is one of the main reasons that very little wild still remain outside formally protected wildlife reserves and sanctuaries.  As we provide a flourishing habitat to an abundance of wildlife, including rare and protected species. To prevent poaching we have had to erect security fencing, employ night watchmen and have scouting patrols to ensure that no snares are set should a poacher somehow manage to enter our Forest Sanctuary.  Regular hikes and checks are also done by Janet and her team of workers.  We also reach out to the local communities to encourage them to take ownership of the responsibility of protecting this natural heritage in the surrounding areas.  

Wildlife Scouts/Guards

We urgently need support to help us optimize our Anti Poaching Units (APU) efforts! Your help will ensure that future poaching is prevented.

de-snaring and poaching prevention control unit

The following is some of the areas of support needed:
  • Camera Traps to alert us of poachers in the high risk areas
  • Wages for our game guards and night watchmen
  • Uniforms  (2 sets each of overalls, Jacket, boots, hats,  night torches 
  • Radio
  • Watches to track the game guards patrol
  • Upgrade of security fencing
  • A drone to enable observation of the reserve from above.

Wire snares removed from the Forest over the years

Our last known poaching occurred in March 2018 – April 2018 but we cannot relax our guard at any time.  

A cable snare discovered in our Forest

We can never relax our guard In April 2018  we were checking our Sanctuary when we noticed some of the wildebeest were missing. We found our territorial Bull but he had a snare around his neck. We feared the worst for the rest of the herd. Soon we found the signs of the poaching that had taken place. 4 of our Beautiful wildebeest females had been snared, killed and taken off the property. The remains were partially buried but a head of one of the calves that had been a special little girl, as she was an orphan, was left lying in the bush. It was traumatic and like every poaching event heart rendering.   A few weeks later, the poachers returned again but this time our night watchman picked up their trail and we were able to remove about 30 snares that they had set.

Tracking – poachers footprints

Methods of poaching.

A game trail is typically identified by a poacher that then places branches to lead the animals into and down the pathway that they animal is familiar with.  Any gaps are closed off with more branches so that they dont run out of the pathway. Wire nooses that are difficult for the animals to see, are hung from trees and bushes. They get caught by their necks or legs by the wire cable and suffer a very painful, slow death.   Lucky ones break free. Should an animal that is snared break free or still be alive, we have to bring a veterinary surgeon to our Sanctuary, to dart it with an anesthetic to immobilize it so that the snare can be removed. This is one of the costs we have that must be met by our emergency medical fund.  

An Nyala with a snare after it managed to break free

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Billy was an excellent tracker – he helped us find many snares

READ ABOUT THE TRAGIC POACHING OF OUR FRIENDLY ZEBRA “OLD BOY”  – THAT HAPPENED IN THE EARLIER YEARS: Some years ago our favorite friendly zebra “Old Boy” was snared and he suffered a dreadful death. Terrible setbacks like this make us even more determined to prevent snaring and the inhumane treatment of animals.  

The tragic death of “Old Boy”

“Old Boy” was the first wild zebra stallion at Suni-Ridge.  Over the 12-years that he was with us, he had become tame, often coming to up to our home to visit us at night. We did not encourage him to become habituated. It was his own choice. He seemed fascinated by us and befriended us.  Below is a copy of the letter that Janet sent to a friend about this tragic event. Further down, you can also read the letter about little KHOLA, the foal that was born after Old Boy’s death. .Continue reading: the dream about old boy  Old Boy’s death was our first experience of losing wildlife to poaching at our Forest Sanctuary.  It was devastating. Subsequently each time we suffer the loss of an animal to poaching, we are severely distressed.

Our ongoing work to prevent poaching needs your support. 

Water holes were also created and wildlife started pouring in. Today the sanctuary supports more than 8 red data mammal species, over 340 species of birds and a huge diversity of other animal life including our namesake, the rare Suni Antelope.
On occassion, we sometimes see a leopard passing through our reserve. Another great compliment is the unusual Aardvaark that has started calling Suni-Ridge “home”. Preserving our environment is paramount, as Kwa Zulu Natal has already lost 33% of it’s indigenous forest. Less than 50% of wetlands remain in South Africa and worldwide deforestation and pollution of land and ocean are causing global warming. In our immediate area rivers that feed the St. Lucia lake are utilized extensively, but no water is being allocated to sustain the lake (read more about the Water Catchment Forum). Sadly, the wildlife in and around our reserve still falls prey to the inhumane practice of snaring. Wire nooses are placed in trees and bushes, which are difficult for the animals to see. They get stuck in the nooses and suffer a very painful, slow death.



Environmental Course for Communities

Terrible setbacks like this make us even more determined to prevent snaring and the inhumane treatment of animals. Suni-Ridge goals - eco ambassadors We’re working with the local communities to increase awareness of why wildlife is important, and why we need to preserve and nurture our amazing natural heritage, by offering the Young Ambassador’s Environmental Leadership Course. The course we provide offers an understanding of biodiversity protection, water and sanitation management, animal husbandry and leadership skills to teenagers who … read further
Many of us are great lover’s of the environment, but we are not always able to give back to mother nature, that which we are taking from her, at a much faster rate than she can sustain. ~ Janet Cuthbertson
Silky the Zebra (a few days old) with her mother

Read about Silky and her mom


Wildlife Orphanage (future project)

When an adult animal dies (normally from poaching / snaring), their young are left helpless, often unable to fend for themselves. The general approach is to “let nature take its course”. Which normally means that little ones don’t survive, because they’ve not yet had the chance to learn the necessary survival skills.

We’d like to offer a safe haven for young wild animals and need your help to set up an orphanage.

Poaching and Security

One of our most important challenges is to protect the wildlife in/around our reserve, and to prevent poaching.

We provide a flourishing habitat to an abundance of wildlife, including rare and protected species, and are reaching out to the local communities to encourage them to take ownership of the responsibility of protecting this natural heritage.

Young Environmental Ambassador’s Course

Young leaders from local commCOMMUNUTIES - Young Environmental Ambassador's Courseunities attend our Young Environmental Ambassador’s Leadership.

Our involvement with local communities also shows them how they can benefit from Eco-tourism and why implementing (or being part of) the Sustainable Use Policy isn’t the right thing to do (see our Khola Campaign).