A Southern African python, which is an endangered species, was rescued by a group of joggers before being electrocuted on Saturday.
Durban snake rescuer and conservationist, Nick Evans, said early on Saturday morning, a group of friends on a run, in Holla Trails, Umhlali, just outside Durban, came across a large Southern African python, stuck in an electric fence.
“I received a call from them, and they all sounded distressed. I wasn’t happy to hear about this either, as I’ve seen two pythons die in an electric fence. In saying that, I know of two that survived after being freed, and this group was determined to save this one.”
Evans said they all agreed that the fence needed to be turned off.
“They made phone calls to do this. The python was apparently getting weaker,” said Evans.
Natasha Barnes, one of the trail runners from Dolphins Coast Striders in Ballito who helped save the distressed snake, said they were all shocked when they came across the snake and could not run past “this poor creature and not stop to assist”.
“One third of the snake’s body was stuck on the other side of the fence, I think she [the snake] miscalculated the size of the grid and got stuck. The fence was very powerful, if we did not find her sooner, she would have died.”
Barnes said the fence was active, and after some over-the-phone advice from Evans, who suggested they try to get the fence switched off, cut the wire and leave it to rest for a while, they started trying to get hold of the farm manager.
“Not long afterwards an angel called Sabelo appeared out of nowhere on his four-wheeler followed by Aidan, the estate operations manager, and before we knew it, the electric fence was off, the fence cut and the snake freed.
“Aidan left the snake to rest a while and to regain its strength and then he collected him in an old duvet cover and took him deep into the bush and released him safely,” said Barnes.
She said what is more fascinating is that they were not meant to be on that route in the first place.
“I did not feel well and so we decided to take a shorter route. If we did not change our minds at the very last minute we would never have found this beauty,” she said.
Evans said the Southern African python is a protected species and it is illegal for it to be traded or killed.
“Sadly, we lose so many of these species to people who kill them to sell for muthi. Habitat destruction is another issue, among others.
“So, for this beautiful, big specimen to be saved, was so important. Hopefully it lives a good life and has learnt to avoid electric fences.
“For me, it was so encouraging to see that this group cared so much. I see a lot of cruelty towards snakes every day. Seeing people go out of their way like this, with such determination, was just brilliant,” said Evans.