Snakes Alive!

By Roger Farlie

Nestled in the leafy suburb of Greystone Park, the seven hectare Greystone Nature Preserve (GNP) affords a haven for wildlife both fauna and flora. The recently repaired dam is now benefitting from the recent rains and already has had a marked effect on the Preserve. After three years of nothing more than scrub land in the dried up basin, the rising water has, once more, become a home to many bird species including  Black Crake, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, White-faced Whistling Duck, noisy Egyptian Geese and of course the ubiquitous Village Weavers. These little birds can be seen frenetically building their intricate nests in the hopes of attracting a likely mate who won’t insist on him tearing down and rebuilding to her specific tastes.

In keeping up with their mission to protect and promote all forms of wild life, the Greystone Nature Preserve has recently embarked on a new initiative and will be hosting a number of programmes. For example, in conjunction with Chawa’s Wild Adventures; Chawatama Marimo, a renowned, locally based, snake handler will be demonstrating the whys and wherefores of snakes in the wild and particularly the very important part these reptiles play in our ecosystem. Organisations and corporates whose workforce has reason to be working in the bush are invited to send employees for a short introduction to snakes and how to safely interact with them. Participants will be given an opportunity not only to find out more about snakes, but to have a close up view of venomous snakes and be given an opportunity to handle non-venomous varieties. During a recent visit by some of the staff from NetOne, participants were amazed by what they saw and heard. Many had never experienced the feel of a snake and although initially disinclined to find out, most lost all their fear and handled the snakes willingly. However Chawa was quick to point out that caution should always be taken and not to touch before positive identification is made.  

Part of Chawa’s expertise is the removal of snakes from properties where they might pose a problem and to release them back into the wild.  Whilst the creatures are awaiting translocation they will be held in an enclosure which will be constructed in the Nature Preserve. Any organisation such as a school’s Nature Group that would like to be involved in the design and creation of such an enclosure should contact the GNP’s Warden, Neil Fairlie ( . Once the enclosure has been built, visitors will be able to observe snakes in complete safety.          

Chawatama Marimo with rescued venomous Gaboon Viper which will soon be returned to the wild.

Chawatama Marimo showing off Rock Python to NetOne personnel

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