“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
|During yesterday’s drive through Marloth Park searching for photo ops, we spotted this Hornbill, one of our favorite birds in the area.|
There are a known 184 species of snakes in South Africa. In years past, 151 species had been identified, but now, additional species have been discovered with the use of DNA.
Not all snakes are venomous. As for this area, referred to as the “Lowveld,” 60% of those species are found. The Lowveld is described as follows from this site: “The Lowveld is the name given to two areas that lie at an elevation of between 500 and 2,000 feet (150 and 600 meters) above sea level. One area is in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Swaziland, and the other is in southeastern Zimbabwe. Both are underlain largely by the soft sediments and basaltic lavas of the Karoo System and loose gravels. They have been extensively intruded by granites. Other resistant metamorphic rocks also occur; these commonly appear as low ridges or what seem to be archipelagoes of island mountains. The higher western margins of both areas testify to the degree of erosion resulting from the flow of rivers running east or southeast.”
|Tom was using the grabbers to grasp the highly venomous Snouted Cobra.|
In South Africa, you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being bitten by a snake. Annually, between 24 and 37 out of 100,000 population are bitten by snakes. Nearly all bites are on the extremities. The mortality rate is between 1% and 2%, resulting in an approximate 98% survival rate.
With these statistics, it’s evident the likelihood of dying from a snake bite is rare. However, in most cases, bites occur by accident (stepping on a snake), a surprise encounter while hiking, walking on one’s property, and other chance encounters.
|Tom was bending over to grasp the tail of the Snouted Cobra, keeping the head down in the grass, to place the snake in the container.|
Many snake bites could be prevented by the proper response when they are discovered. First off, snakes have no ears resulting in total deafness. Instead, they respond keenly to vibrations. That fact is why we’ve always heard when one has a close encounter with a snake, DON’T MOVE…STAND COMPLETELY STILL! That still holds today.
What would determine a close encounter? It may be different for many snakes, depending on their striking distance. To be safe, if a snake is found within your immediate space, don’t try to guess its striking distance. Instead, STAND PERFECTLY STILL and wait for it to slither away.
|When “capturing” the Black Mamba, it is imperative to immobilize the head close to the ground and raise the tail. Tom managed to do this while it was desperately attempting to escape. The Black Mamba is the fastest snake on the planet.|
If a snake doesn’t sense ANY vibration, generally, it will move away. If a snake is in another room or a distant area, get away as quickly as possible, securing your space in a closed place where it can’t enter. Chris explained, “Don’t bother to stand still if the snake is in the living room and you are in the kitchen! Just get away as quickly as possible away from the direction the snake is moving.
If a person resides in an area with many snakes, it’s wise to have an emergency number available to have the snake removed from inside your property. If it’s in your yard or another outdoor area, it will move on…steer clear in the interim.
In Marloth Park, we can call Snake Removal at the following numbers: John Webb, 079 778 5359 or 071 480 6453 or Daniel Louw, 082 574 0186 or Field Security at 082 828 1043.
|After over 16 years of snake handling experience, Chris didn’t hesitate to handle the deadly Black Mamba.|
In the event of a snake bite, there are several vital steps to consider:
1. Immediately call Field Security at 082 828 1043 to arrange for the quickest means of transportation to a medical facility with anti-venom, which may be by ambulance or helicopter. Also, if no response call, Securicor Lowveld at 082 567 2350 or 086 111 1728.
2. Don’t attempt to “catch” or take a photo of the snake. This could result in being a bit additionally. Immediate medical care is more important than the type of snake.
3. Don’t drive yourself or have others drive you to a medical facility. Typically, trained emergency response staff has means of treating your symptoms en route to an appropriate hospital which ultimately can keep you alive until you arrive. (continued below photo)
|Through years of training and experience, Chris can only handle this dangerous snake with such skill.|
4. Do not “cut and suck” the bite wound. This has been proven to be ineffective.
5. Don’t panic – Although it is impossible to stay emotionally calm, one must attempt to stay physically calm. The more the bite victim moves about, the faster the venom moves throughout their bloodstream.
6. There’s no benefit to using heat or ice.
7. Do not use a tourniquet unless you are three or four hours from medical care, and then it’s done so as a last resort.
|A Black Mamba doesn’t have black skin as most assume. Only the interior of its mouth is pitch black.|
There are two types of anti-venom used in South Africa today:
- Polyvalent contains antibodies of several kinds of snakes and is effective for most venomous snake bites.
- Monovalent, which contains antibodies for only one type of snake in South Africa – the Boomslang.
|Chris and Tom were all smiles with the Black Mamba. I’m glad my job was to take photos and not handle the snakes, although I took the classroom course and the test.|
Often, once the patient is in the hospital, the medical staff will immediately start various life-extending procedures while they wait to determine if anti-venom is necessary. A small percentage of patients are allergic to the anti-venom, which may result in severe anaphylaxis, which can be more deadly than the snake venom itself and may lead to death.
|A the end of the course, around 4:00 om, the Black Mamba was elongated while Chris held its mouth in place.|
It’s easy to become terrified when reading this information, but in areas where snake bites are a possibility for all of us. As laypersons, we cannot guarantee that all of the information provided today and yesterday would ensure safety from venomous snake bites.
Please seek further information or attempt to educate yourself to the best of your ability by attending a course such as we’ve presented over these past few days or other resources that may be available in your area. For the Lowveld, contact Lowveld Venom Suppliers at 082 372 3350, email at email@example.com, or their website: http://www.lowveldvs.co.za.
|Marloth Park Honorary Ranger Sandra took a Facebook “live” video during the “hands-on” portion of the course.|
Our special thanks to Chris and his staff and Marloth Park Honorary Ranger Sandra. They facilitated an extraordinary experience we’ll never forget and have been excited to share with our worldwide readers.
Have a safe and bountiful day!
Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2018:
|Bob, our fantastic landlord, and a new friend came running to tell us the Kookarburros were on his veranda. We couldn’t believe our eyes for this up-close view of these vast, beautiful birds. Within a week, they were coming to visit us, eating ground beef out of my hand. For more photos as we settled into Fairlight, Australia, please click here.|