Hair-raising mamba removal!

Mamba call- a great way to start off a Saturday, despite it being a close-call!

This past Saturday, I received some frantic messages on WhatsApp from a lady in Maphephetini, Inanda, quite early in the morning.

She said that her mother saw a big snake in their rondavel, and pleaded with me to go to their help. I asked if someone could confirm that it was still in there, as everyone had evacuated! So she called her neighbour, who came to check it out. He spotted it, identified it as a Black Mamba, and agreed to watch it till I arrived.
It was also about an hours drive for me, and I had a talk in Westville at 11am. So I was quite pressed for time!

The lady sent me a pic of three dead snakes that they had killed in the same rondavel last Spring. She said that the snake that was there now, looked like these. They were three big Mozambique Spitting Cobras. I assume it was two males after a female. A real pity that they were all killed, but people out in rural areas have little choice when faced with situations like these.
So I was up for something exciting, whether it was a mamba or cobra!

I didn’t want to go out to that area alone. It’s very rural, and not always safe. I contacted my friend Shane Pike, who agreed to come with me.
Shane accompanied me on a hair-raising adventure into the townships of Umbumbulu one night, a few months ago, to remove a mamba. So he was used to this kind of thing! Kindy, he offered to meet me in Waterfall, and drive me in his bigger car.

The drive there was much better than it is to most other call-outs. Inanda is a beautiful, scenic area, and makes you feel as if you’re really in the wild! Of course, one needs to watch out for potholes, and cows!

We finally arrived, and were lead into the rondavel. The man, who had kindly watched the snake for an hour, pointed out where the snake was hiding. He pointed to a cardoard box, which had a few things stored on top of it. I lifted up a thatched mat, and spotted the snake- Mamba!! Only a youngster, curled up underneath this mat.

I pulled it out with my grabstick. It was trying to get under some things in the box, but I got hold of the tail, and pulled it out. I had the head-end resting on the tongs, which were in my right hand, and the tail in my left hand. I thought “Hm…what’s going to happen next?”

I like to pin the mambas down, and safely secure the head with my hand. This may not be comfortable for the mamba, but it’s the most efficient and safest way for us and the snake. For a second, I thought I wouldn’t need to pin this one down- Wrong!

The mamba tried to get back into the box, then, in a flash, it lunged at myself and Shane, who was standing next to me, filming.
I watched as the gaping mouth of this young Black Mamba, came right at us. It all happened in slow-motion, it really felt a lot longer than a second. I thought “(4 letter word, pardon me), we’ve been bitten”.

The strike seemed to have missed us, and I flung it away from us (sorry snake, you scared us!). I then did things my usual way (the way I was taught), and I pinned it down with the grab stick, and safely secured the head. Phew!

After I put the mamba in a bucket, we quickly checked our arms and hands for bite marks- nothing. Thank goodness! That was way too close. In fact, it was one mamba catch I didn’t enjoy, at the time. But obviously afterwards I felt much better, and that had made my day 😀

The people there were so grateful, besides from one drunk neighbour, who was desperate to slap the snake. I must say, it was tempting to let him try…
It’s made such a difference to these people’s lives, knowing that there is help available, should they have another unwanted reptilian visitor. They will call now, rather than kill. That for me was the highlight.

Shane then drove me back to my car in Waterfall, and I raced down to Westville to do my talk, and I made perfect timing. Fantastic!

The mamba measured 1,72m long. It’s probably between 1-2 years old. We’ve microchipped it, giving it an ID so we can see if we catch it again, collected DNA, and it will be released within the next two days.

A video will be posted tomorrow of the capture, but I may edit out the close-call

For snake rescue and removals around Durban: Nick Evans- 072 809 5806


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