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Thursday, June 21, 2012


Some of you may know that in August I`m speaking at the Weird Weekend on the Flying Snake of Namibia. The other day I came across a report from the Namibian (newspaper`s) web site, dated April 3rd 2012

Under the headline ` Strange Serpents` plague Tubuses, a town in Namibia. This is the story, by Adam Hartman:

Since December last year, Erongo`s Tubuses settlement, north of Usakos near the foot of the Erongo Mountains,(1) has apparently been plagued by hundreds of `large strange snakes`.

Speculation is rife, but one particular version has it that some residents claim that they saw a helicopter flying low over the area before the New Year- soon after which there was a sharp increase in the snake population. According to one resident, the snakes are not the usual kinds (like pythons, puff adders, whip snakes and mambas) found in the area. The `new` snakes were also larger and more dangerous. “Instead of staying in the bush, these snakes are coming into the houses as if the houses belong to them” said David Nuseb. One story has it that a toddler was apparently sitting on the couch watching television, when a large serpent entered the living room and made its way to the TV where it started `fighting` with the images on the screen. The child called his parents, the snake was cornered and killed Nuseb said.

There is agreement among the community that there is usually an increase of snakes after a good rainy season, like that of last year, but then the snakes apparently stay in the bush, away from people. Another member of the community, Isak Naweseb said that scores of them have been killed by people over the past few months, or by vehicles driving over them on the roads. “ Just this past weekend, when a relative of mine went to a funeral nearby, he said that he drove over three large snakes,” said Naweseb.(While he was speaking to the newspaper, another resident of the area, a certain Yvonne, sent a sms to this reporter`s mobile claiming that a snake was in the generator room at the water pump.)

Mobile images of some of the dead snakes were given to The Namibian. The images are of poor quality, but a comparison to the snakes kept at the Swakopmund Snake Park did not shed much light except – considering the colours – that some of those photographed could have been Angolan or Mozambican cobras and mambas. Some of the snakes are found in that area, while others not.One argument is that the snakes could have been washed down river from another region. “Sometimes large snakes are found in Swakopmund, especially after the Swakop River has flooded. The river brings the snakes downstream from the interior. Maybe this was what had happened, an official at the snake park explained.

The owner of the Snake Park, and author of books regarding reptiles of the Namib, Stuart Hebbert, said that nothing is “impossible” anymore, but there were definitely things that were “improbable”. The story of the helicopter is improbable. Helicopters are very expensive, and it would be much easier to transport snakes by car. And why would someone drop snakes from a helicopter? he asked. Hebbert said that he did not want to shrug off the community`s stories as fables, but admitted he was a sceptic.” I`ve heard many snake stories, and once a story gets off the ground it spreads like wildfire, and with that the snakes become more in number, bigger and more dangerous” , he said. He said that the idea of good rains bringing more rodents into the area, attracting more snakes, was more probable.(2)

1. Central Namibia.
2. The Namibian April 3rd 2012 http://www.namibian.com accessed June 11th 2012

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