5 thoughts on “Ugandan song for protecting snakes

  1. Uganda: Snake Farmer Wows Taibah Students

    New Vision (Kampala)

    21 September 2007
    Posted to the web 22 September 2007

    Herbert Ssempogo
    Kampala

    IT is one of the most poisonous snakes, causing a person to die within hours.

    But on Wednesday morning, snake hunter and farmer, Yasin Kazibwe, effortlessly handled a green mamba, locally known as Temankima, at Taibah College School in Entebbe.

    The snake, about a metrelong, was seen slithering in a park, a few metres from the school after Robert, a gardener, roused it from its nook.

    The head teacher, Oskar Ssemweya Musoke, immediately called Kazibwe, who found the snake had taken refuge on the branch of a palm tree.

    “He asked us whether we did not mind cutting down the tree on which the snake was,” Eddie Lukwago, a science teacher, said.

    Kazibwe, the owner of the Uganda Reptile Village in Entebbe, then embarked on his daring act. He gently picked up the snake using a stick with prongs and caressed the back of its neck, before hoisting it into the air.

    Curious students and workers, who gathered around him, cheered as he held its tail before wrapping it around his neck. A few daring ones touched the snake, which had been subdued. Like the late Australian crocodile hunter, Steven Irwin, Kazibwe demonstrated how the snake deploys and retracts its fangs that contain venom.

    He advised the students to run whenever they see a snake, adding that snakes have poor vision but rely on vibrations made by people.

    Kazibwe handed the snake to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre chief, Dr. Andrew Sseguya, at Entebbe.

    Gloria Mukami, a student, who had seen large snakes at a park in Kenya, was awed by his skill.

    “Kazibwe told us that snakes only bite when they are attacked,” she said.

    Kim Ssebuliba, a Senior Five student, argued that snakes eat rats, thus there was need to protect them.

    “The environment would be affected if we killed them all,” she stressed.

    She expressed disappointment that a python (green mamba), which killed a goat, was recently beaten to death.

    According to Cindy Obath, a student leader, Kazibwe’s demonstration was a good lesson on snakes, which she said were importants components of the ecosystem.

    “I learnt that they are the second most dangerous snakes. He advised us to keep away from snakes and to keep our compounds free of bushes,” she said.

  2. Zimbabwe: Snakes Important Part of Our Ecosystem

    The Herald (Harare)
    Published by the government of Zimbabwe

    COLUMN
    29 September 2007
    Posted to the web 29 September 2007

    Harare

    No study of Zimbabwean snakes would be complete without referring to the many other snakes, while being beneficial to the environment or humans, nevertheless have got a bad reputation,Chief, I think, among those is the File snake, called Ndara in Shona and N’kwakwa in isiNdebele.

    This entirely beneficial snake has a distinctive triangular shape, with a row of white scales on the top. It is purple to black above with an ivory white underside.

    It’s quite a large snake (about one-and-a half metres long), has a large head, and defends itself quite effectively, though it has no venom.

    It has achieved the reputation of a harbinger of bad news, if not the curse of the mudzimu. Whites also believe it to be highly venomous. As a result, the snake, though almost universal throughout Zimbabwe, is not common.

    The female, who is usually the much larger snake, not only coils itself up like a boa constrictor but also emits a very unpleasant smell from the cloacal glands.

    The snake has never been known to bite, except when the handler’s fingers carry the scent of frogs and toads, because the snake then thinks the fingers are its favourite meal — toads! A new definition, I think, of a finger lunch.

    It’s an evening predator — because frogs and toads also are more active in the cool of the day — preferring to spend most of the day in anthills or cracks in walls — and, like amphibians, it prefers rain, so it is most active after a shower in the summer. It kills by constricting the prey.

    Egg-eating snakes, on the other hand, have almost no teeth or fangs. Eggs are broken by specially designed projections from the vertebrae of the neck.

    The eggshell and any solid content, like the developing embryo, are spat out, so the snake has nice, scrambled egg for supper. Or, in the case of the Eastern Egg-eater, maybe an omelette!

    Since they don’t have teeth, they protect themselves by impressive bluffing “attacks”, like the Gaboon Viper, and “hissing” by rubbing their tightly coiled bodies together to enable their serrated scales to emit a sound.

    Also, there are some cases of mistaken identity.

    Bibron’s burrowing adder, called Nzau, or Nzaukuwiri in Shona is an infrequent cause of bites especially of children, who seem to be more inquisitive, and less fearful, of this small, brown, snake.

    It also differs in its mode of attack, because of its relatively small head. Commonly it hides behind logs of wood or stored upfu sacks (especially ones made of jute or hessian), and, as its name implies, lives, and investigates, in burrows, where its main food — small rats and baby lizards — are to be found.

    Its strike deserves special mention, because it paralyses by injecting venom from its ultra-long fangs, compressing its small lower jaw so that the fangs pass either side of it.

    By the same token it is impossible to hold this venomous snake safely by grasping its neck, because it simply writhes to inflict a bite with one of its long fangs into a finger.

    I think the most dangerous mistake is to wrongly identify it. It’s commonly confused with a Wolf snake, which has similar, long recurved teeth (hence its name) and hunts in similar sites, but feeds almost entirely on lizards.

    The difference is that the long, non-venomous teeth occur on both jaws, and it is a slow, non-aggressive snake which only bites if it’s handled roughly.

    Some snakes seem to go like lightning, travelling at what seems like a fast speed and going over the top of tall grass, especially when escaping from a veld fire. In fact, snakes can only go at about 15km/hr.

    From what I’ve said, when bitten by a snake it’s always important to go to an expert health worker, even if one thinks the snake that inflicted the bite was not venomous, and the bite seems trivial.

    Of course, one must not expect a doctor to know every snake in the area, and a lot of progress can be achieved by working together with the doctor and the victim to bring about a positive result.

    A word of caution will not, I hope, be misplaced or misinterpreted here. When I was Minister of Health and Child Welfare, a surgeon cut a venomous snakebite with several incisions, thereby making the patient much more ill.

    When I asked why that was done, I received the response “To let the venom out, stupid!”

    A moment’s thought will rationally resolve that line of thought. The patient had been bitten by a puff adder some days previously, with the result that the area around the wound was rotting (we call it “dehiscing”), and swelling and discoloration of the leg already extensive.

    Since puff adder venom is translocated by the lymphatic system, not the bloodstream, blood letting will not release the venom.

    Additionally, the passing of several days since the event of the bite would mean that the venom had already become systemic, and therefore was not localised to the limb where the bite was sustained.

    Fortunately, the patient survived, but was in hospital for a lot of time longer than should have been the case. I think, also, the degree of permanent disability was greater than it might have been. An uncharitable view might have been that the surgeon looked at the relative value schedule, rather than the patient.

    In conclusion, therefore (because this article is the last of the present series), I believe that we should accept that snakes are an important part of our ecosystem, and learn more about them and their contribution to our world.

    Then we, and our loved ones, are less likely to panic irrationally, and appreciate that, indeed, God has made all things well.

  3. Uganda: One Man’s Vow to Protect Humanity’s Worst Enemy

    Martin Ssebuyira

    The Monitor, 7 February 2010

    opinion

    Even though the human population has hardly given them a chance to survive, ‘Kazibwe the Snakeman’ has sworn to protect reptiles and set up a conservation area to that effect , writes Martin Ssebuyira

    The Uganda Reptile Village, which conserves snakes for education and tourism is the first of its kind in Uganda. It is located in Bunono Village, three kilometres off Entebbe Road, at Katabi Sub-county head offices.

    The village has extraordinary varieties of reptiles, a cool breeze from the forest and a bird watch facility. The sanctuary Chief Executive Officer, Mr Yasin Kazibwe a.k.a Snakeman has made the snakes his friends and enjoys life with them. While mentioning the word snake can make most people scamper for safety and others rush for sticks, a few people like Kazibwe get offended when a snake is killed.

    “For me, killing a snake is like killing my relative,” Kazibwe says. In June 1999 Kazibwe was offered a chance to go to Zimbabwe to horn his skills. He spent the following year in a snake-infested jungle camp receiving specialised skills on how to rescue a snake from human attack and how to handle snakebite victims.

    In May 2000 he came back to Uganda and immediately joined a one Musiimenta, who was plying his lucrative snake-export trade. However, their reunion was short-lived as they had a conflict of interest; Kazibwe refused to keep capturing snakes from the forests and swamps for export; he understood that by not breeding the snakes, they would become endangered species.

    Kazibwe started to think about his own project, based on the concept of saving reptiles and spreading the knowledge among local people to educate them on how to live peacefully with reptiles and avoid killing them. Between 2003 and 2008, he rescued more than 450 snakes of 38 different species from death.

    Kazibwe’s ongoing project requires funding; he has been working hard for years to secure a proper habitat for his beloved animals and to create credibility for his name, demonstrating to people and official organisations that he is not interested in profiting from his project but rather in saving as many snakes as possible.

    Any free time away from his permanent job as a tour operator at Wild Frontiers is dedicated to building up enclosures to keep his animal friends safe and secure. He has just completed the first masonry structure hosting nine different snake species; four enclosures are built in the form of closed rooms with a window at the front so that people can view the animals and learn more about them. One enclosure is actually an open basin as the species hosted there are non-climbing snakes like the Gabon Viper.

    The other open basin is home to four different species of tortoises; children love watching these slow but fun animals eat vegetables. Walking down the gentle slope is the present location of the chameleons, still to be remodelled and enlarged with a new concept that Kazibwe wants to expedite in the next few months.

    Two more large enclosures are located at the end of the compound; one is a very big open basin with a pond hosting three large monitor lizards. The other one, also containing a huge pond to keep the animals cool on hot days, will be home to the famous African Rock Python that he says was brought but released afterwards.

    At the end of the compound is a swamp area ideal for reptiles, birds or monkeys to breed and feed. Kazibwe’s vision is to use this swamp for bird-watching and study purposes.In the future, Kazibwe plans (if funding permits) to add other enclosures for crocodiles, another ten different species of snakes, plus a variety of geckos, agamas, lizards and other reptiles. His objective is to secure 49 snake species all found in Uganda.

    He has also planted different tree species with local herbs that can cure snake bites. Entrance at Uganda Reptile Village is Shs2000 for adults and Shs1,000 for children.

  4. Pingback: Python skin trade, crime and fashion | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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