As students began attending their first classes of 2020 on Wednesday, those attending Olwasini Junior Primary School on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast got an unwelcome new classmate.
This after a two-metre-long black mamba was discovered in one of the classrooms.
Crocworld Conservation Centre herpetologists were promptly called out to investigate and rescue the snake. The herpetologists, assisted by SAPS, tried for three days to rescue the snake, and finally succeeded on Friday. For their safety, students were given a few extra days of freedom while the rescue was taking place.
“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.”
Part of the wall of the school had to be broken through to rescue the snake without harming it. Rodrigues said that once they gained access, the rest of the rescue was straight-forward.
The principle of Olwasini said that staff had noticed the snake on the roof of the school.
“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!” said a relieved Mpume Mvubu.
Rodrigues said that trying to remove a snake unassisted, or killing it, puts the individual at risk. He advised that should one find a snake, a close eye should be kept on it from a distance of five metres, while 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 or Martin Rodrigues on 078 484 1859 or James Wittstock on 066 292 0880.
(Compiled by Nica Schreuder)