Help to build a sanctuary for snakes

2019-11-19 06:01
Steven Meighan with a Cape cobra rescue.

Steven Meighan with a Cape cobra rescue.

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Boomslang, puff adder and Cape cobra are probably not on the list of animals you’d like to find in your home; but if you did spot one, Steven Meighan is the man you’d want to call.

The Glencairn resident has been known as the Venom Man for the past 20 years; learning all there is to know about snakes the world over, rescuing and rehabilitating the scaly creatures, and teaching others about the unique nature of reptiles.

“When I caught my first Cape cobra, I didn’t have tools or anything. I just caught it by hand at nine years old,” said the reptile lover, fresh off a Cape cobra rescue in Noordhoek. “And when it made a hood, I realised I need to go to the library. Later on, I started keeping and breeding reptiles, and doing rescues in my spare time. Then later I carried on with the breeding and, from there, I went into the reptile business full time.”

Now, in between call-outs to remove snakes from homes and live demonstrations, Meighan is working to raise money for his new Deep South Reptile Rescue Sanctuary, a reptile conservation centre.

The sanctuary is being built on 2ha of land at 4 Take A Walk Close in Noordhoek. It will house rescued and domesticated snakes – one of which he currently keeps at home. Unofficially the longest snake in the world, Nagini – a reticulated python from Indonesia – is over 6m long.

Meighan wants to use the sanctuary as an educational space. He teaches children at schools in underprivileged communities about snakes.

“Before the sanctuary, we’ve been going out to schools. We never had a place to host people. So, from the sanctuary, we will be able to. I want to have maybe two or three classes coming through daily and I’ll do the awareness courses there.”

He also runs an advanced venomous snake-handling course, which will take place at the sanctuary once it is completed.

“The course takes about two days. At first, I teach them about identification, basic first aid, do’s and don’t’s about snakes and expel myths. From there they go on to the handling.”

The centre will be built to mirror various habitats of South Africa and all the snakes will be homed in their “indigenous regions”. And, with universities in Cape Town already expressing interest, it will also give university students practical training to complete their Zoology qualifications.

To get it up and running, Meighan has launched a Back-a-Buddy campaign to raise R100 000 for the sanctuary. Besides its educational purposes, the centre will also “conserve our local wildlife and ecosystem” and serve as a hub from which he can do rescues, keeping snakes out of the homes of untrained residents.

  • Support Meighan by donating to his campaign: or visit his website: for more information.


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