Chad Cocking, a much-loved game ranger at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, received quite an unexpected surprise last week when he found a near three-metre black mamba underneath his bed.
It’s amazing how humans tend to fear things that they do not understand. Often these fearful thoughts are irrational. It is also interesting to note how a little bit of education, experience and mentorship can change someone’s opinion on their fears. This was the case for Chad when he discovered an unknown fear.
Chad thinks back on the moment when he was relaxing, reading an article in bed. Although he heard a strange sound, he attributed it to his neighbour watering the garden. When the sound came closer and became more distinctive, he realised that his justification for the sound was illogical and he decided to investigate its source. That was when he discovered his unexpected visitor – a black mamba under his bed!
Chad’s body filled with adrenaline as he watched the huge, gunmetal grey snake slide past his bedroom and into his bathroom.
Chad struggled with his instinctive reaction to run, and his informed mind which told him to stay still. While his mind wondered of the possibility that the black mamba was searching for a meal, the snake returned from bathroom, reigniting the panic. Those few seconds that the snake was in the room felt like an eternity, and then it slid back into the bathroom.
As soon as the tail of the snake disappeared into the bathroom, Chad managed to slide the door closed with a huge sigh of relief. He contacted Dale, General Manager of Tanda Tula, to help with the safe removal of the snake. After realising that the snake was indeed quite large, Dale apologised for initially laughing at Chad.
They called Donald Strydom, the owner of Kinyonga Reptile Centre, who often gives insightful and educational talks at the Safari Camp, allowing guests and staff to interact with the snakes and remove some of the initial fear. Donald’s passion for protecting these incredible reptiles made him the perfect person to safely remove and relocate the black mamba.
Donald arrived, cool and calm, and began informing the crowd that had gathered about typical snake behaviour. He explained that it was most likely that the warm day encouraged the snake to be out and about, looking for a meal. He had probably wandered into Chad’s house accidentally and would have left on his own accord upon realising that there was no food.
After the briefing, Donald moved into the house explaining his process, and reemerged within a few seconds, the snake firmly secured in his snake tongs. He managed to get the snake into a secure position and allowed everyone to touch it before releasing it safely into the wild.
Chad commented on the way Donald managed to remain calm the entire time, explaining the behaviour of the snake, including the strange curry smell that the snake released. Looking back on the events of the day, Chad is amazed to note how differently he and Donald approached the situation based on their level of understanding. Educating people about the importance of snakes in the environment can alleviate a lot of irrational fear.