Through the Save The Snakes Support Grant Program, Save The Snakes supported Beatriz Nieto Ariza in 2020 to reduce human-snake conflict in the Department of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Beatriz and her team have experience with rescuing snakes in this region of Bolivia, they have conducted training with health workers and children and their project has been included as a member of the Network for Snake Venom Research and Drug Discovery.

Project Title:
Human-snake conflict in the Bolivian Amazon: educating for coexistence

Project Summary:

Human-snake conflict is a challenge in Bolivia that has not been addressed. In addition to this, our understanding of snakes there is very limited. In spite of underestimated data, Bolivia is among the ten countries with the highest snakebite incidences in the Americas. There is currently only one study in the country analysing this conflict –focused on epidemiology- and Amazonian is the region with the highest incidence of snakebites in the country. Most studies analysing snakebites are based on retrospective collections of records from health institutions and several include household surveys. However, not many studies in South America have focused on collecting information on snakes, humans and environmental factors simultaneously. More studies need to focus on assessing the importance of these factors at a local scale, and community intervention projects based on local reality and perception of snakes need to take place, especially in Bolivia. This project was designed to assess which human, snake and environmental factors are relevant to snakebites in the study area, to sample the species of snake in the region and to develop an educational programme. In order to mitigate human-snakes conflict it is necessary for local people to understand the role of snakes in ecosystems, how to identify venomous snakes and how to prevent snakebites. Additionally, healthcare workers also need to improve their knowledge about snakes and snakebites and stakeholders need real data on locations for snakebite incidences and developing antivenoms. 

Aims and Objectives:

The aim of this project assess which human, snake and environmental factors are relevant to snakebites in the study area, to register snake communities in the region and to develop an educational programme. The project consists of two stages: first, research determining factors of snakebites in the study area (species involved, human population at risk, circumstances of the bite, activity of victims, treatment seeking behaviour, late hospital presentation), and sample snake communities in natural and human-transformed habitats. Second, education which will involve visiting local communities that often experience conflict with snakes and where the information obtained during the first stage will be transmitted to community members, health workers, children and stakeholders. We expect to generate new data about the biology of snakes and snakebites –checklists and ecology of species of snakes, factors related to snakebites incidence in the study area and increase of the knowledge and awareness of snakes among population favouring a reduction of snakebite incidence.

Goal:

The goal of the project is to mitigate human-snake conflict in the Bolivian Amazon; a conflict that impacts thousands of people in Bolivia every year and many species of snakes. To achieve this, we must reduce snakebite incidents and change negative attitudes towards snakes, educate people about the importance of snakes in ecosystems and snakebite prevention. There is a need to fill the gap in scientific information on this subject in Bolivia and explore the factors that impact human-snake conflict. This will be a means to mitigating threats to snake populations and improve the human well-being of thousands of people. 

Support Snake Conservation

Beatriz’s project is a recipient of the 2020 Save The Snakes Support Grant Program. Save The Snakes Support Grants are made possible because of the generosity of compassionate people and organizations who are inspired and dedicated to protect threatened snake populations and mitigate human-snake conflict around the world. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like Beatriz’s snake conservation project in Bolivia. Thank you for your support.