Following my passion and living my dream in rural Zambia

Authored by Choti Singh, Save the Snakes

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My mission is to protect snake populations in Zambia through education and community outreach, and to create a harmonious relationship between humans and snakes. As a culture deeply rooted in religion, we in Zambia are raised to fear and often revile snakes. This unfortunately results in many trying to kill what they misunderstand. And this sadly, is when a close aggressive encounter results in a snake defending itself and biting.

‘Hook and tail’ method of safely handling a highly venomous Black Mamba.

Choti engaging a young boy at a community presentation with his first encounter, a harmless Brown House Snake

With inadequate medical facilities in rural villages, the consequences are negative, with amputations and disability if not death, predominating. In traditional family structures, death of a breadwinner is economic devastation for the entire extended family.

As a female herpetologist I am able to break stereotypes and get people to question their preconceptions. Mitigating snakebite does involve safe removal of snakes in potential conflict situations with humans, and relocation into the nearest suitable release site, often the nearby South Luangwa National Park. There is extensive and ongoing training to be a Snake Handler; critical for the safety of all involved. Remaining calm and always being compassionate enables safer handling experiences.

Feeling nostalgic about childhood memories, with a nonvenomous juvenile Southern African Python.

I am following my passion of working with snakes, and living my dream of being in rural Zambia amongst abundant wildlife…but most important is how necessary this is to mitigate snakebite amongst my community.