Snakes cause panic at Tubusis – by Albertina Nakale

Snakes cause panic at Tubusis – by Albertina Nakale

07 February 2012

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Namibia — The community of Tubusis in the Erongo Region has been experiencing sleepless nights after a sudden increase in the number of lethal snakes in the village.

The villagers say they now live in fear since the snakes have been entering their houses during the night.
So far, four people have been bitten and are now hospitalised.

New Era on Friday spoke to Cornelius Laurentius Shaanika Nameya, Tubusis Primary School principal and community activist, who confirmed the presence of snakes that have invaded the village.

“We are experiencing a problem with snakes here. They are coming to our houses at night. People here are jumping up and down because snakes enter the houses and go under their blankets for warmth,” he said.

Although the community could not exactly identify the types of snakes, Nameya added that many of them were “black mambas.”

“Some stand on their tails. We think they are black mambas. They sometimes enter the houses through the windows,” he noted.

There is talk from the villagers that last December, an aeroplane dropped the snakes in that area purportedly to protect some minerals.

Villagers allege that certain investors dropped the snakes to bite people so they could move away as the company tries to prospect for minerals in that area.

“There is a lot of potential for minerals such as uranium in the area. So these investors dropped the snakes so we can move away,” charged a villager who refused to be identified.

However, Nameya rubbished the villager’s allegations, saying the presence of snakes was due to a huge “veldfire” that occurred last year between July and December, wiping most of the vegetation.

“Currently, Tubusis is dry. In the past, it is true, we never experienced snakes.

But there was a huge veldfire in Tubusis. We know the snakes used to stay in cool places such as trees. But the trees were burned out. The snakes fled to look for cooler places at our houses. It is not true that investors dropped the snakes. You know when people are afraid, they make up all sorts of rumours,” he maintained.
Nameya said locals took months to extinguish the “veldfire”. adding that the fire destroyed a lot of vegetation.

Meanwhile, Nameya who is a Chairperson of the Gaingu Conservancy, and others have been trying to minimise snakebites in the village.

“We bought Swael (a repellent) to prevent snakes from getting close to people. We are busy distributing the medicine to villagers so they can protect themselves,” he explained.

More than ten snakes have apparently been spotted in the village and one was killed.
Three villagers are now hospitalized at the Usakos state hospital.

Among the three, one was bitten on the toe, one on his eye and one on her thigh.
A woman has been transferred to Katutura state hospital for further treatment as she was bitten on her nose.

Nameya said they had reported the case to the ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) officials in Swakopmund.

According to him, an official was in the area last week but they are still waiting for the feedback.

“It is a very serious matter we are facing. They are spotted everyday, even during the day,” he stressed.

Nameya however, confirmed that there were no injuries reported regarding school learners.

Patrick Tjikongo, a Warden at MET who went to Tubusis to assess the situation last week confirmed that villagers were having a problem with snakes coming into their houses.

“They are blaming us (MET) that we trans-located the snakes to Tubusis, which is not true. Snakes are common in that area. They are naturally distributed,” he reacted.
Tjikongo said he only saw a small snake (a grass snake) when he went there. However, he established that four people had been bitten by snakes and were hospitalised.

“Our policy on Human-Wildlife Conflict does not cater for snake bites. But the conservancy can assist with buying medicine to prevent snakes from coming near people.”

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