Saturday, January 9, 2016

My first cobra encounter...

     Chelsi (a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer), and I were sitting on the veranda in front of my hut. We were discussing my disappointment of the lack of large animals in Zambia, such as elephants and lions, which can only be viewed in national parks. 

     Chelsi commented how wildlife is all around us; birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects...and to observe these animals is an opportunity which we shouldn't ignore, and rather appreciate. My being a nature lover and bird watcher for many years, I agreed with her.

     As we discussed this Chelsi noticed a snake under a thick patch of ornamental plants a little over a meter away from us. We were excited to see an interesting living being we could observed closely. We both agreed it is probably harmless, both of us being in the serene state-of-mind of observing nature and loving all creatures.

     The snake eventually ventured away from the cover of the plants into open area. We both got up to get a closer look, but kept a safe distance. 

     The snake then reared up and displayed its hood. I didn't hesitate and ran inside my to retrieve my lukasu (hoe).

We did not get a picture of the actual snake, but this is a close resemblance of what it looked like.

     I chopped the cobra in several pieces. It was a young snake, maybe a foot long, but still, I had to do it. A bite could kill me, a child, or my pets. Or it could end up in my hut! 

     This is my first encounter with a cobra. I have heard of other Volunteers' encounters with them so I have been aware I could run into one someday. 

     I know bigger cobras are out there nearby, but they are smart; they have survived the fate of the lukasu for many years by hiding in the tall grass. This youngster hasn't developed the smarts to do so, unfortunately.

     This is the third snake I've killed living in the village. All snakes are killed when found because of the high numbers of venomous snakes that occur here in sub-Sahara Africa . 

     Snake encounters are common especially when rain season arrives. The grass regrows and food is abundant. 

     There are also many snake bites during this time. People who forage the forests for food, such as mushrooms can get bit and never return home. Black mambas are common and once a person is bitten they have 20 minutes before they die.

     I avoid the bush and every step I take around my hut I am scanning the ground for snakes. It is a part of life here. 

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