Black mamba delays start of school for one KZN South Coast primary school

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While the rest of the country’s school-goers were eagerly attending their first classes of 2020 with schools re-opening on Wednesday, pupils from Olwasini Junior Primary School in Amahlongwa on the KZN South Coast had their holidays extended for a few extra days after it was discovered that a black mamba had taken residence in one of the classrooms.

Martin Rodrigues (General Manager: Crocworld Conservation Centre) and James Wittstock (Reptile Curator at Crocworld Conservation Centre) with the black mamba.
Image Supplied by Crocworld Conservation Centre

Herpetologists from Crocworld Conservation Centre in Scottburgh were called out to rescue the school’s newest classmate – assisted by members from SAPS - but the snake’s chosen hiding spot made for a challenging rescue, resulting in success on the third day (Friday, 17 January).

“The school staff identified the snake and contacted us to retrieve it, but it took three days before we were finally able to get hold of the snake,”

explained Crocworld Conservation Manager, Martin Rodrigues.

“We went on Wednesday afternoon, Thursday from mid-morning and then again on Friday. The snake was hiding in the actual brickwork near the ceiling, inside the wall. It would be spotted but we couldn’t find the hole it was getting in through. On Friday, the school staff saw it and were able to keep an eye on it while we were called to attend.”

The delicate retrieval of the snake meant that the Crocworld members had to break through part of the wall without harming the snake. However, Rodrigues said, once access was finally made, the snake rescue was fairly straight-forward.

Mpume Mvubu, the principal of Olwasini Junior Primary School, explained that staff had noticed the presence of the 2-metre black mamba on the roof of the school:

“We called the police and Crocworld Conservation Centre to rescue us! On the third day, they broke the wall, and the snake was hiding deep inside. I’ve never experienced this. It was a crisis for the school – this is a fast snake and very dangerous. I thank Crocworld for their help, we will call them again if there is another snake!”

Because of the danger posed by the black mambas, the school pupils were kept away from class for the duration of the snake capture, finally able to get started with the year’s studies on Friday. Rodrigues said the school acted correctly, with the safety of pupils prioritised:

“It’s important to remember that snake captures are done by professionals. You need to know what you’re doing, use the right equipment and understand the behaviour of the animal – especially with a snake like a black mamba.” 

He said trying to remove a snake without assistance, or killing the animal, puts the individual at risk. He advises keeping a watch on the snake, from a distance of about 5 metres, and immediately calling a professional for help.

“Thanks to the efforts by the staff and members of SAPS, we were able to successfully remove the snake unharmed,”

said Rodrigues.

“It is about to shed its skin, so we will feed it and keep it until then, before releasing it into a secure location, away from human habitation.”

Crocworld Conservation Centre offers a free service of identifying and removing snakes for the communities of Scottburgh, Umkomaas, Pennington and Park Rynie.

For more information or assistance contact Crocworld Conservation Centre on 039 976 1103

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