‘Strange serpents’ plague TubusesBy: ADAM HARTMAN
SINCE December last year, Erongo’s Tubuses settlement, north of Usakos near the foot of the Erongo Mountains, has apparently been plagued by hundreds of ‘large strange snakes’.
Speculation is rife, but one peculiar version has it that some residents claim that they saw a helicopter flying low over the area before the New Year – soon after which there was a sharp increase in the snake population.
According to one resident, the snakes are not the usual kinds (like pythons, puffadders, whip snakes and mambas) found in the area. The ‘new’ snakes were also larger and more dangerous.
“Instead of staying in the bush, these snakes are coming into the homes as if the houses belong to them,” said David /Nuseb.
One story has it that a toddler was apparently sitting on the couch watching television, when a large serpent entered the living room and made its way to the TV where it started ‘fighting’ with the images on the screen.
“The child called his parents; the snake was cornered and killed,” /Nuseb said.
There is agreement among the community that there is usually an increase of snakes after a good rainy season, like that of last year, but then the snakes apparently stay in the bush, away from people.
Another member of the community, Isak ≠Naweseb said that scores of them have been killed by people over the past few months, or by vehicles driving over them on the roads.
“Just this past weekend, when a relative of mine went to a funeral nearby, he said that he drove over three large snakes,” said ≠Naweseb.
(While he was speaking to the newspaper, another resident at the area, a certain Yvonne, sent an sms to the this reporter’s mobile claiming that a snake was in the generator room at the waterpump.)
Mobile images of some of dead snakes were given to The Namibian. The images are of poor quality, but a comparison to the snakes kept at the Swakopmund Snake Park did not shed much light except – considering the colours – that some of those photographed could have been Angolan or Mozambican cobras and a mambas. Some of the snakes are found in that area, while others not.
One argument is that the snakes could have been washed downriver from another region.
“Sometimes large snakes are found in Swakopmund, especially after the Swakop River has flooded. The river bring the snakes downstream from the interior. Maybe this was what had happened, an official at the snake park explained.
The owner of the Snake Park, and author of books regarding reptiles of the Namib, Stuart Hebbert, said that nothing is “impossible” anymore, but there were definitely things that were “improbable”.
“The story of the helicopter is improbable. Helicopters are very expensive, and it would be much easier to transport snakes by car. And why would someone drop snakes from a helicopter?” he asked.
Hebbert said that he did not want to shrug off the community’s stories as fables, but admitted that he was a sceptic.
“I’ve heard many snake stories, and once a story gets off the ground it spreads like wildfire, and with that the snakes become more in number, bigger and more dangerous,” he said.
He said that the idea of good rains bringing more rodents into the area, attracting more snakes, was more probable.