Snake fundi shares his passion

Jenny, Luke, Zoe and Derek Wally.

NICK Evans from KZN Amphibean and Reptile Conservation kept his audience captive with his educational talk on snakes at last week’s Botanical Society meeting.

The hall at the Durban Botanic Gardens visitors centre was filled with people wanting to hear the snake fundi speak, and to view some of the specimens he brought along with him.

Evans, who said he enjoyed giving talks because many people didn’t understand snakes and feared them. “People don’t like snakes, but they need to accept them and learn to live with them as they are an important part of the environment, “ he said, adding that it was his job to help people understand snakes.

In Durban, Evans is kept busy with snake removals, as well as other reptiles like monitor lizards, which he catches and releases into the nearest nature reserve.

He said people were scared of snakes for different reasons, some fears are fed by movies they’ve watched and Zulu cultural myths, which he has tried to work on by doing a lot of educational talks in rural areas. He said many people believed snakes were ‘pack creatures ‘ that moved in pairs or with their mothers, which was not true.

Snakes mate in September so this is now hatching season. The snake lays her eggs and moves on, and two months later the eggs hatch, with the snakes going their separate ways. Snakes are venomous from birth,” he warned.

Nick urged people not to use snake repellents around their homes such as Jeyes Fluid, saying that this and plants such as wild garlic, which people plant in their gardens, do not repel snakes.

He urged people not to kill snakes, saying they served a vital role in keeping rodent numbers in check. “Snakes are free pest control against rats, are frog controllers, and keep lizard numbers in check. They are also bird food for creatures such as mongoose and monitor lizards, which keep the snake population in check too,” he said.

Nick said snake numbers were declining as their habitats were being destroyed, and encouraged people to rather have snakes relocated if they were unwanted. He urged people to leave snakes alone and to never pick one up.

“Rather call a snake catcher if snakes are venomous, and if you are bitten, go straight to hospital,” he said, adding that with the 3.8 million people living in the greater Durban area, there were only 17 snake bites treated last year at St Augustine’s Hospital.

“The chances of being bitten are very slim. People need to realise that snakes are not out for them!” he said.

  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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