Prepare for snake season

Tyrone Ping shows the poster the African Snakebite Institute has put together with common Durban snakes, as well as a first aid guide.

AS warmer weather makes its appearance, residents are cautioned to be on the lookout for snakes who emerge with the warmer weather.

The African Snakebite Institute, founded by renowned South African author, Johan Marais, has prepared well by publishing posters showing local snakes for all regions of the country.

Tyrone Ping from the Durban branch, said the posters have been developed for each major city centre, province as well as some neighbouring African countries and popular holiday destinations.

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“We get a lot of calls from people telling us they have been bitten by a snake, and they don’t know what to do, and these posters give a lot of information on snakes found locally, their appearance, as well as their status such as whether they are poisonous or harmful,” he said.

Tyrone started working for the institute in 2015. He has been passionate about snakes since he was a child, and has photographed reptiles around the country for years. He said he was fortunate to have a job he loves, and the knowledge to help people learn more about snakes.

“Snake bites are treated well in South Africa and we only have a handful of deaths per year. Our focus is on snake education, formal training and corporate training and education such as in the African mines in the DRC. We kit out the companies with properly manufactured tongs to catch snakes to ensure as minimal contact as possible. The reality is that if you are bitten by a venomous snake, you will need an anti-venom,” he said.

Tyrone said the institute spends a lot of time doing public courses, such as at PheZulu in Botha’s Hill, which people can attend to find out how to identify snakes and treat them, as well as advanced courses for snake keepers, where they teach them how to care for them. The institute has not only developed the posters, which they have provided to schools, vets, scout groups, nature reserves and environmental groups, but also a first aid pamphlet which shows all you need to know about how to treat a snake bite in a human, pet or farm animal.

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“These are available as free downloads on our Facebook page and can be sent via post. We are very big on social media and use it to get information out to the public. There is a huge misconception that snakes are aggressive, especially the Black Mamba. This is a nervous snake whose first line of defense is to get out of a human’s way. Venom is a precious resource used for killing prey, and they will not maliciously bite people. There is a lot of misinformation out there and we aim to break down myths and educate people,” he said.

Tyrone also removes snakes as a service of the institute.

If you are interested in finding out more about the posters or first aid booklets, contact Tyrone on 084 492 2542 or visit:



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Lauren Walford

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