01 Oct 2010

When snakes came to visit

Conservation & Education News, Tropical Nature News

The forests of Trinidad’s Northern Range provide habitat for many species of snakes, although most of these are not venomous and will not harm humans. And of course we have seen many of these beautiful reptiles here at Asa Wright, and sometimes we need to “relocate” those that come too close to our cottages.
You will recall in September’s issue of the Bellbird that we featured Winston Rojas, our resident snakehandler who does the relocation of our snakes when necessary. So it was only fitting that when the Emperor Valley Zoo began conducting Snakehandling Workshops in Trinidad and Tobago, that they would visit Spring Hill to share experiences with Winston, and to tell our staff and visitors about the animals and reassure everyone that the fears we harbour are really unfounded. And to conduct this workshop in the Jonnie Fisk Conference Centre, they brought some snakes to visit us, and which were used in the snakehandling demonstrations. The Emperor Valley Zoo staff members were Delbert Charleau, Kishore Ramlogan, Safiyah Khan and Sharleen Khan. The snakes which they brought were three “local” residents and one “expat” – a huge Albino Python from Burma.
The “locals” were a boa constrictor, or Macajuel, a Rainbow boa and the Tigre. Delbert Charleau demonstrated the techniques for handling these snakes, and also advised on the methods to deal with venomous snakes. Participants in the Workshop included a crosssection of the Centre’s staff, plus visitors to the Centre, who especially appreciated the opportunity to handle the snakes and realise that their fears of them are largely unfounded.
One of the key points expressed was that snakes do not want to harm people, and will only bite if aggravated or trod upon. We wish the Emperor Valley Zoo and the Zoological Society every success in their ongoing workshops, and trust that people will begin to appreciate these animals more and fear them less.
October 2010

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