Our Africa Program Manager, Hiral Naik, recently made a short trip to Hoedspruit. Hoedspruit is a small town in the north-eastern part of South Africa and it will be the location for our snake education and conservation work in South Africa. In partnership with the Hoedspruit Reptile Centre, this project hopes to mitigate human-snake conflict in and around the Hoedspruit area.
The goal of the trip was to officially begin identifying schools to visit for the start of the project in January 2021, and further develop a few more projects that will form part of the partnership. Hiral spent a few days at the reptile centre, which will be the home base for this project. The centre hosts an exciting exhibit of many endemic snakes that are used for educational talks, and the team at the centre are often approached to rescue snakes from locals, particularly farmers.
While at the centre, Hiral went on a call out for a black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) at the wildlife estate next door to the reptile centre. Chris Cooke, Director of the Hoedspruit Reptile Centre, does many call outs in the area and was able to handle the black mamba with ease and removed it from the home. Black Mambas are often labelled as aggressive but, in most situations, they will rather find a way to escape than be confronted with humans. Gathering data on where and which snakes are rescued will form an important part of our snake conservation project. Hiral was also excited to release a southern African python (Python natalensis) that had been brought to the centre which had been found in a pipe on a farm. Snakes are quite commonly encountered in this area and is the main reason to further investigate the relationship between humans and snakes.
The project team also had a great strategy meeting and specific communities have been identified to conduct educational talks next year. More planning will be done in the next few months and we look forward to an exciting start next year. Hiral has been fortunate enough to receive a grant from the International Herpetological Symposium which will assist in kickstarting this project.
Learn more about Hiral’s work here and please donate to further support her important human-snake conflict mitigation efforts in South Africa.