Monday, November 12, 2007

Snakes Alive!

My daughter, Rox, was recently playing paintball with a group of friends and a young, recently qualified, doctor from the UK. They had gone to a fairly bushy area to see whether it would be a good venue for their game. On seeing the wild, bushy terrain, the young doctor asked Rox whether they were likely to see buffalo roaming the hills in that area. Rox thought this was quite funny! The answer is of course “No”! The “big five” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) as well as large game such as giraffe and zebra, are all confined to national parks and game reserves nowadays. (Although there have been rare reports of the odd leopard being spotted in rural areas). You will still occasionally see buck and other small game running wild in the rural areas. You are NOT going to see elephant wandering down the roads, or lions roaming the streets, in South Africa!

The young doctor then asked Rox how frequently snakes were spotted in the wild, Rox explained to him that we get a lot of snakes in our area and we see them fairly frequently - he was none too happy about this information! The fact is that South Africa is home to around 138 snake species, with 8 of those species being highly venomous. The venomous species include adders, cobras, mambas, boomslang and vine snakes. Seventy percent of snake bites in South Africa are by puff adders. They are one of the fastest striking snakes and they often lie still and are therefore easily stepped on.
snake in my garden
On average I would say we have around 5 or 6 sightings of snakes in our garden each Summer. I really dislike snakes intensely and I have to force myself to adopt a common sense approach to them. My husband assures me that nearly all the snakes we see are harmless and should be left to go about their business. I have a hard time accepting this approach. (We had a “snake incident” on Sunday and I didn’t cope with it very well at all! LOL!)

Interestingly the young doctor told Rox he had seen more stabbings in the mission hospital he was working in (in the rural area inland from our town) in the few weeks that he was there, than he had in his entire career in the UK. Makes me think the danger doesn’t lie in the wildlife of Africa after all…


Today I am thankful for the wonderfully diverse wildlife in my country.


Jeanne said...

Oh I realyl don't like snakes either. Our house was right on the edge of a valley and we also used t have regular snake incidents. More than once, we had puff adders in the garden. One pregnant puff adder drowned in the pool along with her offspring; another few were chopped up by my dad's old 2-stroke lawnmower - scary how close to them he must have walked without their moving! My mom once jumped over the baby rubber tree to escape from a puff adder, and when the tree was as tall as the house my dad was endlessly amused by telling the story and seeing people's disbelief when they stared up at the giant rubber tree. He also once shot a puff adder in the driveway where it had been lying under the car that he and my mom had just got into. Africa - not for sissies!! ;-)

Fee said...

You wanna bet!!!! I laughed when I read about the Lions only being in the game reserves! I heard on the Radio(20 minutes ago), that 2 lions that had escaped from the Kruger National Park early September, had to be shot(today) after harrassing local residents!!!!! I'm not joking!

Love Fee

Fee said...

I mean..... they were prowling the land for 2 months!!! frightening!

Regina said...

huuuummmm, well, I quess God knows where people should be born and where they should live because I totally hate snakes!
I seriously do not beleive I could reside anyplace where snakes are common scenery. I have had an incident with worms that was scary so I KNOW I couldn't do snakes! Wow, God bless you!

Linda said...

We have seen a couple snakes in our back yard. They are the garden type that won't hurt you, but I don't want them anywhere near me.

I haven't blogged since last week, so I do have my meme up now. Sorry it took so long.