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These beautiful Ugandan sculptures turn wire traps into art4 min read

December 8, 2020 3 min read

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These beautiful Ugandan sculptures turn wire traps into art4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A decade ago, Tutilo Mudumba found out that wire traps were the reason behind a 40 percent decline in the population of  lions in Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park between 2002 and 2009. In 2015, he co-founded Snares to Wares with Robert Montgomery to combat this problem. 

Snares to Wares takes these wire traps found all over the park and turns them into sculptures of animals- elephants, giraffes, rhinoceros, and other animals found in the Park. The program currently employs 620 artisans and sells more than 800 sculptures a month. USA is the widest market for these African sculptures that sell anywhere between INR 3,700 to 6,700.

Owliver’s Artsy Observations:
Sculptures are three-dimensional artworks. Traditionally, they were made out of stone, clay, metal, and wood. But since the beginning of the 20th century, you could very well create a sculpture out of glass, cloth, or in the case of Snares to Wares, wires from discarded tyres!

The glaring snaring problem 

Sourced from Mongabay

The Murchison Falls National Park was reported to have the highest number of illegal snares per square mile laid down by poachers than anywhere else in the world. These snares are meant to trap wildlife. Antelopes, buffaloes and warthogs are intended targets for their meat but sometimes, giraffes, elephants, lions and other animals also wander into these traps.

These snares are made from wires from discarded tyres found on the highway close to the Park. These snares hurt the animals that get caught up in them. These injuries can be fatal.

The traps are set mostly by local people.
Being part of the poorest part of Uganda, these people depend on this illegal activity for their sustenance. Also, there is general apathy around wildlife in these areas as animals are often thought of as the reason for the damage to crops in farms beyond the Park. 

An artsy solution

In a 5 hour search spread across 19 miles, the team of Snares to Wares finds around 200 snares.
These search parties are conducted every two weeks. The material thus gathered is delivered to the artisans who use them to create beautiful sculptures of the very animals the wires were meant to harm reversing the whole narrative!
What was meant to harm is now being used to celebrate.

Sourced from Emily Ward

Snares and Wares employs local people as artisans and trains them to create art out of these wires, creating alternative employment opportunities for them.
The organisation also organises excursions for the locals of the area and the artisans to visit the Park and interact with the animals allowing them to experience a sense of empathy towards them.

An artisan at work. Sourced from Snares To Wares

Juma Muhamed, assistant warden of law enforcement and security at Uganda Wildlife Authority, believes that the efforts of Snares to Wares has made a difference. He believes that the younger members of the group will set an example for the elders of the community in moving towards alternative ways of livelihood and sustenance.  

Murchison Park has experienced remarkable improvement over the last decade with increased patrolling against poaching and veterinary care for animals. This has almost doubled the population of some animals living in the Park.

Snares to Wares’ story teaches us that it only takes love for all, and a dash of creativity to take a major problem and create something beautiful out of its solution!

Check out its collection, here.

Think with Owliver
What is the difference between a national park, a sanctuary, and a reserve? Find out and let Owliver know in the comments, below.

Image soured from National Geographic

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