Snake kissed farewell

2017-04-05 10:21
The man who lived with the snake for almost two weeks emerged with the 3 m-long black mamba after requesting some time to bid it farewell while inside his house. The snake was confiscated in Batlharos, Kuruman.Photos: Facebook

The man who lived with the snake for almost two weeks emerged with the 3 m-long black mamba after requesting some time to bid it farewell while inside his house. The snake was confiscated in Batlharos, Kuruman.Photos: Facebook

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Intervention by community members of Batlharos in Kuruman resulted in a black mamba, one of the world’s deadliest snakes, to be confiscated by environmental enforcement officials on Monday, 27 March.

The 3 m-long black mamba had sparked panic among community members upon the news that it had escaped from its keeper, who is reported to have been sleeping in the same room with the snake for almost two weeks.

It is believed that the man, who is a shepherd, had found it in the veld and took it to his house.

A reliable source revealed that the man is known for collecting snakes, of which some are dangerous, and selling them to traditional healers.

According to the source, it took effort to get the enforcement officials to collect the snake as they also feared for their lives.

Black mambas are known to be fast, nervous, lethally venomous, and when threatened, highly aggressive.

The source revealed how drama had unfolded at the man’s house, where he had requested to spend some time alone with the snake to bid it farewell before handing it over personally.

“Everyone was requested to wait outside his hut while he closed the door and spoke to the snake. He asked to do so out of concern that it was going to return if he did not talk to it. After about 30 minutes he emerged with the snake in his hand, which was longer than he was tall,” said the source.

It is claimed that the snake had communicated to the man that it was actually lost, as it was from the North West Province.

Lesogo Pule, Media Liaison Officer (MLO) at the Department of Environmental Affairs, commented on his personal Facebook page: “Very brave indeed! He even kissed the most deadly snake before handing it over to us,” and “This man slept with this venomous snake in the same room, uncaged. It escaped one day and members of the community then alerted us and we confiscated it. He warned us that it will come back though,” read Pule’s other post.

There is a belief among members of the community that the man uses black magic, because the snake did not harm him in any way.

According to National Geographic online, the black mamba has been blamed for numerous human deaths, and African myths exaggerate their capabilities to legendary proportions.

They live in the savannas and rocky hills of Southern and Eastern Africa.

“They are Africa’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to 4,5 m in length, although 2,5 m is more the average. They are also among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 12,5 miles per hour (20 km per hour),” states National Geogaphic online.

“Black mambas are shy and will almost always seek to escape when confronted. However, when cornered, these snakes will raise their heads, sometimes with a third of their body off the ground, spread their cobra-like neck flap, open their black mouths, and hiss.

“If an attacker persists, the mamba will strike not once, but repeatedly, injecting large amounts of potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike.

“Before the advent of black mamba antivenin, a bite from this fearsome serpent was 100% fatal, usually within about 20 minutes.”

Antivenin is still not widely available in the rural parts of the mamba’s range, and mamba-related deaths remain frequent.

Members of the community are still concerned by the news that the snake was released into the veld and upon confirming with Pule on Facebook he responded: “Where it belong yes!”

He elaborated on this comment.

“Besides, the old man did not have a permit to catch or keep snakes. We have adopted a catch and release approach to snakes and other nuisance animals found in residential areas across our villages, townships and the cities.”

“Their venom is used to attack and kill prey, not us. So, they use their poison sparingly. Also, they are more scared of us than we are scared of them. When you come across one in your house or car, just relax and move away from it quietly and seek help afterwards,” Pule assured.

He appealed to members of the public to know local snakes and how to respond to them, or rather to treat all of them, as dangerous.

“This does not mean they should be killed, but rather stay away from them and, if found in a yard or a house, call our department for help.”

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