Snake conservation in South Africa!

For your reports/images, made outside Europe and the "Mediterranean" countries. Not to be too narrow minded and limited to our European/Mediterranean herps.

Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Nick Evans » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:24 pm

Hi guys,

Thought I'd share some interesting pics from some of my conservation work in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

My full-time 'job' mainly is snake conservation. I run my own programme called KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation [url](http://www.kznamphibianreptileconservation.com)[/url] Long name, I know, but I guess it is what it says it is.
So I spend all my time doing educational work, and call-outs, removing unwanted visitors from people's homes- my favourite part of what I do!

Firstly, it isn't all good news and happy stories, but that's the reality of conservation. So I'll start off with the sad bits, to show you some problems snake face (which you'll know already) and move onto the happier stories :-D


This magnificent mamba unfortunately landed up in an underground parking lot. When someone noticed it, a crowd gathered and chased the snake, cornering it into a drain. It had nowhere to go. It was up against a retaining wall, with people above and below. They started stoning the snake, using bricks and rocks. A caring woman and her two children tried stopping them, a brave act, but their attempts were futile. She had called me, and I was about 5 minutes too late. The snake was dead. As I picked up the body, the crowd started laughing. I have no words to describe my anger at that point!

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Nice-sized Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) killed for R100, which a sangoma (witch-doctor) will pay to use for traditional medicine, which doesn't do anything.

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This poor Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) had a severed spine, and was euthanized. It had apparently been bitten by the owners dog.

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This poor snake didn't make it, but it showed an amazing fighting spirit!
This 1m long Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) was hiding in some rubble in a quarry. It was dug up by a grader, dumped onto a tipping truck amongst the rubble, and was just about to get tipped into a crusher! Luckily, staff spotted it, and called me. It had nasty injuries, but it was incredibly lucky as to how it survived that ordeal.

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I took it to an experienced reptile vet at a high-care facility. She cleaned out the wounds, and stitched him up.

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We didn't have much hope of him waking up, but he did! He was moving around an hour after his surgery. I named him 'Cockroach'.
In the following two weeks, he became really lively, and was doing what these snakes do best! He didn't seem to appreciate the staff at the facility looking after him
But then one day, my friend who works at the facility messaged me to say that the poor snake had passed on. We were devastated! I guess those injuries were just too severe. But what a fight that snake put up, quite inspirational really!
A big thank you to his 'hospital team', who looked after him so well.


One of my most memorable experiences with a young Mozambique Spitting Cobra, whom I named Sunlight.
The young cobra had Jeye's Fluid poured on him, even though I was en route to remove the snake! He was lifeless. I took him home, and drenched him in Sunlight dishwashing liquid (thanks to some advice from a friend), although avoided it getting in his mouth.

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After a few rinses with Sunlight and water, he started showing signs of life again! I was so excited! But his movements wouldn't last long. I opened his mouth and as I did that, he opened up his trachea, taking a big gasp of air! His nostrils were blocked from the Jeye's Fluid. I'd open his mouth, and leave him again. But he was struggling. So, using a Bokomo Chocolate Cornflakes 'Slurpy Spoon' (basically a straw in a spoon), I gave him mouth to mouth using that. Never thought I'd do that. I'm going to say it worked, because after that, and leaving a straw inside his mouth, keeping it open, he seemed to be perfectly ok! He too, like Cockroach, showed his gratitude in a true 'Mfezi' (Zulu name for the species) way! He was later released.

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This massive Herald Snake (Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia) had gotten itself stuck in the hole of a galvanised gate. It couldn't have been food, as the bulge was right towards the tail.

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The gardener, at the property, grabbed hold of a grinder. We tried everything to get it out, so we had to resort to cutting it. The snake was over-heating in the midday sun. He started cutting, while I held the snake. I tried squeezing objects in between the gate and the now hot gate (from the grinder), but it was not easy. So we cut, waited for the gate to cool while pouring cold water on it, and cut again. Eventually, we got it out, and out popped two infertile eggs! These must have been in her for some time, as this happened in the middle of winter, long past the laying period. She made a full recovery and was later released.

The snake and her rescuer, top man!
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The rotten eggs!
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I was called out to a rural township. A man's cousin had called me, saying that his cousin was keeping a Rock Python (Python natalensis) in a bad way. So with permission from the authorities, I went to go and confiscate the snake.
The guy had been keeping it in a half-barrel container! No substrate, just a tiny water dish.

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It was in a terrible state. Dehydrated, weak, covered in ticks, and had two nasty scrape wounds on its body. I took it to the same facility which treated Sunlight (this was actually before him!). After some TLC, months later, it's wounds have fully-healed (although it left nasty scars), and it is doing really well. It has been eating, growing, and is ready to be released! Well done and thank you to his team of carers!

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This has got be my most favourite individual snake that I have worked with...
I received numerous calls from a man who worked by an informal settlement, for a massive Black Mamba living next to a bridge, alongside a river. The first time I went, I saw the snake. It was curled up in thick bush below the bridge.
It was huge, I actually thought that it was a python at first! I couldn't get it. Locals were getting impatient, and started stoning the snake whenever it was seen. The concerned caller, kept chasing them off (he had a fruit & veg stand on the other side of the road). Then one day, he called me, saying that he can see it and there's a crowd gathering. Fortunately, I was about 5 minutes away and got there quickly.
I could just see a portion of the body amongst the dense alien invasive vegetation. To my horror, I realised I only had a half-mater long grabstick/tongs with me. Not ideal at all! I thought to myself that this is my big chance, if I fail, the snake would probably be killed soon after. So I went for it.

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After about a minute-long struggle, I had the beast of a mamba out, and secured the head. Woohoo!!!! My legs were like jelly!

The locals came closer to have a look, now that it was in a bucket...A rare chance for them to see such an animal up close.
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The release...
Check out the size of him! Only 2,55m in length, surprisingly, but it was the thickest mamba I have ever seen. That's not fat either, that's pure muscle. This snake was incredibly strong! I held it for a while, while friends were photographing it. It was quite calm. Not once did it come for me. Yes, it tried getting away, but most of the time it just sat there, almost like he was enjoying everyone admiring his awesomeness!

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Here's another mamba. This snake had become resident at this household. There was a gap going under the paving below the stairs, the stairs that the snake was on in the pic. The snake was at the top of the stairs, so I crawled up from the bottom- wrong move! The snake saw me, and bolted down the stairs towards me! Not to attack me, I could see it was focused on it's hiding hole, but I wasn't going to freeze and take a chance :lol:
Calls to remove Black Mamba's definitely make my day!

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Thirsty mamba in someone's empty pool. Turned out to be an easy catch, it struggled to move on the smooth surface.

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I've only ever had two calls for Green Mambas (Dendroaspis angusticeps), both in cars!
Stunning snakes, love them.

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That's not a T.V cable, that's a sneaky Vine Snake! (Thelotornis capensis)

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Mozambique Spitting Cobras keep me very busy! They also seem to have a thing for cars...

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Juvenile hiding in the shocks of a car wheel. The dog chased it in there, but the snake successfully defended itself by giving the dog a dose of venom in the eyes! Wrestling a Staffie to rinse the venom out of it's eyes is another story...

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1.4m specimen removed from underneath someone's sink, in a shack in a township. Yes, my shoes aren't ideal, but I'm often called when I don't have proper shoes!

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I recently pulled out three snakes from a small brick structure (1m x 50cm +-). One Herald Snake (Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia), two Brown House Snakes (Boaedon capensis)! Nice surprise, as I was only called for one.

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Education is of course, a huge step forward for conservation. I try to do as much as I can. I visit all sorts of groups, of all ages, in all areas, across the province.

Feeling a File Snake (Gonionotophis capensis)

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Eish (a popular South African word basically meaning confused/shocked)
Snakes aren't that bad!

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I love what I do, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world! Got a few exciting things happening in the pipeline, will keep you posted. :)

Hope you enjoyed the post.
For regular updates, like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KZNHerpConservation/

Cheers,
Nick
http://www.kznamphibianreptileconservation.com
Nick Evans
 
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country: Africa

Re: Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:46 pm

Beautiful, thanks! :shock: :D
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Re: Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:11 pm

It is dangerous for white people in South Africa, isn't it?
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Re: Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:37 am

Michal Szkudlarek wrote:It is dangerous for white people in South Africa, isn't it?


From this report, the major risk seems to be on the shoulders of black snakes! :lol:
But why only one snake killed by people? In Italy every snake would have been surely killed...
Simply because south african snakes can be lethal, and people are scared by them. If I would make the same job in Italy, in few days I would be unemployed! :lol:
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Re: Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Nick Evans » Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:35 am

Michal, it's pretty dangerous for anyone to live in, no matter what race. There's a lot of unfriendly people about! But that's much like the whole world these days (in parts of countries, not everywhere) isn't it? ;) :!:
That's why I love working with wildlife :lol:
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country: Africa

Re: Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Michal Szkudlarek » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:25 pm

Nick Evans wrote:Michal, it's pretty dangerous for anyone to live in, no matter what race. There's a lot of unfriendly people about! But that's much like the whole world these days (in parts of countries, not everywhere) isn't it? ;) :!:
That's why I love working with wildlife :lol:

"The country has a very high rate of murders, assaults, rapes (adult, child, elderly and infant), and other crimes compared to most countries. "
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_South_Africa
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Re: Snake conservation in South Africa!

Postby Matthijs Hollanders » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:51 am

Nice stuff!
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