Home Arts & Culture A day in the life of a herpetologist

A day in the life of a herpetologist

by commuadmin

Thelma Wandayi

GWERU – Slithering through its camouflage body with an inviting hissing sound, it can stand up and look into the eye while fangs that fold back can instantly snap out to strike, emitting very lethal venom.

The brother from another mother evidently slithers because of its large size, flexible jaws with sharp razor teeth, a non-venomous but a powerful squeeze that immediately ends the life of its victim.

The distant cousins are obviously deadly and dangerous snakes!

Deadly and venomous, yes, but in the eyes of a herpetologist these reptiles also need a life and surprisingly as much as we are terrified to see snakes on the loose, many have visited Snake Park to have a close range view with these creatures thereby making them a natural attraction.

“My day involves removing dangerous creatures whose bite can kill in a minute from people’s homes, cars, ceilings and even unexpected places such as a police cell and I am making a living out of it,” says Gweru based self-styled herpetologist, Dylan Dube.

“Snakes are beautiful creatures that need a life. As much as they are dreaded, many cash out to see them once captured in game parks.

“I grew up taking care of turtles. Having them gave me this euphoric feeling, one which later grew to my current trade, catching snakes,” he added.

The local society however often links this kind of work to witchcraft.

“Catching snakes is just pure art and skill that one can train alone and not in any way does it need juju as many perceive. It’s sad how our cultural narratives often link such work to witchcraft but am happy to say those who have seen the importance of our work have perceived us differently,” Dube said.

Now running a company, Wildlife Junction, Dube has aspirations not only to hunt down snakes but to educate the young ones about wildlife.

Wildlife Junction focuses on various reptiles, not only snakes but birds, hedgehogs, fish, turtles and tortoises as well.

“Realising the knowledge gap towards the understanding of wildlife, we have established a company, Wildlife Junction and through the establishment, we are looking forward to engage children with passion in this trade and educate them on how this different world can be preserved.

“To reinforce the idea in society, sometime last year we launched a snake bite awareness campaign in which was mainly tipped towards changing narratives and negative attitudes people have towards reptiles,” he further said.

Dube is however not immune to snakes himself as he has been bitten once though he discourages people to kill snakes saying the action maybe dangerous than anticipated.

“I was bitten by a python though it’s not venomous, I still find myself in situations where one wrong move could end it all. So in any situation I have to be extra cautious.

“A snake can strike and move so fast within the space of one eye blink. Attempting to kill or catch a snake is a perilous mission as one bite can be fatal. In an encounter with a deadly snake immediately call a snake catcher while a distance away and wait on professionals”, he told CommuTalk.

Inspired by Mike Perry, a South African herpetologist, Dube has caught snakes of all shapes and sizes with one of his most memorable moments being the time he was called to remove a python from a Lalapanzi police cell.

Snakes rescued are released to the National Parks.

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