Python, ambulance still locked in silent battle

2015-06-04 17:53
(Maponya911 via Twitter)

(Maponya911 via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - The huge African python that has held a Maponya911 ambulance "hostage" throughout Thursday had not budged as the sun set near the Phalaborwa airport, with the local Herpetological Society now keeping watch over the stranded vehicle.

Maponya911 paramedic Jaco Gericke told News24 that the python was still in the engine, having taken residence in the vehicle around 07:00.

"It recovered from the sedation and it is a bit more aggressive than it was. We are changing shift now and the Herpetological Society of Greater Phalaborwa are going to take over... to watch over the ambulance in the bush."

Zian van den Bergh, chairperson of the society, said the next step was to leave the python alone in the ambulance till around 20:00 or 21:00 tonight to see if it would leave of its own volition.

"If it doesn't, tomorrow morning if it still there, we will get a low-bed to move the vehicle to a better location so we can do what needs to be done," he said.

"It's our belief that once the sun sets and the air cools down, the snake should move from the engine by itself, but you never know whats going to happen. The snake's safety is our priority."

For now, they were going to give the snake time and space, and see what happens.

Early on Thursday afternoon, Gericke said the five-strong emergency medical team had been waiting since around 07:00 for the python, around 4m long, to take its leave from the ambulance.

"It's still in the vehicle. He's so huge and he's around the engine. The only option is for the snake to climb out by itself," he said around 13:45.

"Our whole crew is sitting here, and we are about 1km from the Kruger National Park."

'It tried to bite me in the buttocks'

The emergency service was contacted after a woman walking her dogs spotted the snake near the fence of Phalaborwa airport.

"I came here and the snake was right next to the fence of the airport, and security tried to prevent it from going onto the airstrip, because [an Airlink flight] was coming," Gericke said.

"It turned around and tried to bite me in the buttocks and then it went under the ambulance. It's [now] right around the engine. It's a massive snake. It is around the size of [a Toyota Quantum taxi] tyre."

He said Maponya headquarters were aware of their predicament and were happy for them to wait. Conservationists were also pleased as they had no intention of harming the snake.

"It's a protected species I believe, so we are going to wait it out," Gericke said at the time.

Read more on:    kruger national park  |  animals

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