KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Amphibian & Reptile Conservation was established in 2015 to advocate for snakes, spread knowledge, prevent potentially dangerous human-snake conflicts, and change people’s perception of these fascinating animals. This program has produced photo guides for the snakes and frogs of Durban, and one free book on understanding snakes. Snake awareness talks and identification sessions are provided to children and adults alike, and Nick Evans – head of the program – conducts snake rescues to remove snakes that have wandered into people’s homes and translocate them elsewhere.
Snake rescues are one of the busiest parts of this program, with multiple calls for removals coming in on an eventful day – if the weather is right, Evans says he might get as many as 25 calls in a week! And not just for black mambas; green mambas, Mozambique spitting cobras, and even the harmless spotted bush snake are just a few of the many species people call in about. These rescues keep both people and snakes safe, while creating an opportunity for data collection! KZN Amphibian & Reptile Conservation records the location of all black mamba sightings, and those that are captured are measured, weighed, and sexed. In addition, in collaboration with the Association of Reptile Keepers (ARK-KZN), 51 black mambas have been micro-chipped to provide insight on their movement and growth. Most black mambas are found near the perimeter of natural areas; as green space is slowly cut back, these animals head into the city in search of food like mice and rats, which are attracted to garbage left out by people. Once captured, the black mambas are released back into a nearby nature reserve. The snake translocations are also used as outreach opportunities, where small groups are invited to attend the release and see the snake up close.