Human-Snake Conflict Mitigation in Zambia

Introduction

Mfuwe, located in Eastern Zambia, is a poor and rural area in the East of Zambia. Because of its suitable habitat, a large number of highly venomous snake species live here and there are lots of human-snake encounters. In 2020, the HHiSS snake removers in Zambia have saved 492 snakes by removing them from peoples homes and work places. This was done in six locations in Zambia. In Mfuwe alone, 288 of these 492 snakes were saved. That is almost 60%! In addition, 24 different species were caught in Mfuwe, of which six can give a bite that requires medical treatment.

Human-snake conflicts are high and this leads to many snakebite incidences and casualties. Due to people knowing little about snakes, every snake usually gets killed on sight, even the harmless ones. And 71 out of Zambia’s 99 snake species are harmless!

Based on National and Provincial data from the Zambian Ministry of Health, on registered snakebites in Zambia, as well as on data from the research conducted by Health Action International in other Provinces, HHiSS estimates that the number of snakebites in the wider Mfuwe area to be around 1,000. As the local clinic is incapable to adequately treat snakebites, and a the nearest proper Provincial Hospital being 120 km away, the number of deaths from snakebites could be close to a hundred per year.