Communities urged to be wary of snakes

16 Dec, 2018 - 00:12 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Veronica Gwaze

The rainy season brings with it a number of challenges.

For those that live in rural and farming areas, snakes become regular but unwanted visitors to communities, and cases of snake bites naturally increase.

Of the 81 snake species that are found in Zimbabwe, 48 are highly poisonous.

Snake World, Lion and Cheetah Park general manager Mr Biggie Madonoro warned communities in farming and rural settlements to be wary of the venomous reptiles.

“Although snakes can be found almost everywhere, farming and rural communities are usually the places where we find most snakes.

“The number of people that are bitten by snakes increases during the rainy season,” Mr Madonoro said.

Farming activities – normally associated with land clearing – usually disturb snakes from their habitats.

Rains also force snakes from underground nooks and crannies.

Communities, therefore, need to be acquainted with behavioural patterns of various species, said Mr Madonoro.

“There are different species and some of the species are not poisonous. Some snakes such as the African rock python are not poisonous, but are constrictors. Among the mildly poisonous species are the olive grass snake, the brown house snake and the scup stalkers,” he said.

The black mamba (rovambira), he said, is one of the most aggressive and venomous snakes.

“The black mamba can attack even when it is not provoked. It can run at a speed of 20 kilometres per hour and if a victim is not treated within 30 minutes, the bite can be fatal.”

The gaboon viper, which normally lives in rain forests, is one of the most poisonous snakes. If a victim is not treated in 10 minutes, the bite can be fatal.

Mr Madonoro said snake bite victims should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) public relations manager Mr Tinashe Farawo said it is important for communities to be conservant with snake behaviour.

“Most snake species are not aggressive. They only attack when they are cornered. Snakes try as much as they cannot use venom since the poison is used in the snake’s digestive system,” Mr Farawo said.

The puff adder is one of Africa’s deadliest snakes and is responsible for most human fatalities.

Snakes, Mr Farawo said, prefer warm temperatures and this is the reason why they have a penchant to sneak into homes.

“It is advisable to have doors and windows closed, especially at night. Snakes hunt for rats in homes and it is advisable for people to make sure that their homes are rat-free.

“People should be cautious when they are walking in bushy areas. In the event that one has been bitten, there is no need to panic. The bitten part should be tied to reduce the flow of poisoned blood.

“The victim must seek medical attention as soon as possible,” he said.

Government has since heightened awareness campaigns to prevent the scourge.

Supplies of anti-venom, which have been in short supply, has since been increased.

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