Ghana Lifetime: Meetings With Ghana’s Snakes

In the 1970s, the veteran curator of the reptile dwelling of the University of Ghana, at Legon, around Accra, proudly told site visitors that he had participated in a survey of the snakes of the Gold Coastline led by George Cansdale, afterwards of the London Zoo and famous for his BBC Television animal programmes of the 1950s. ‘We identified,’ the curator would say, ‘seventy distinct species of snakes, of which fourteen are venomous.’ Even though it could appear to be that only twenty per cent of Ghana’s snakes pose an fast danger to human beings, most encounters look to include the venomous species, or at minimum that is the way it appears in hindsight.

Early in 1982, the innovative government of John Jerry Rawlings directed that there need to be a countrywide farming day on which all people was anticipated to devote all his/her time on the land in some task of functional agriculture. The Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technological innovation (KNUST), Kumasi, experienced not too long ago obtained a large plot of land a couple miles from the college campus on which it was supposed to display minimum amount tillage farming. So on the appointed working day the overall personnel of the centre noted for duty ready to very clear the bush and prepare the land for cultivation.

The do the job began, but it was not very long right before the cry went up that a snake experienced been killed. Fearing that the inexperienced farmers may possibly lay down their equipment, the director called out that there was only a one particular-in-5 probability of the snake getting venomous. ‘No, no,’ cried the seasoned agriculturalists, ‘this one particular is really perilous,’ and they hurriedly introduced the corpse for inspection. It experienced been certainly a quite dangerous creature, a Gabon viper with a brief thick human body and horned head, reputed to be the most venomous of all Ghana’s snakes.

The visitor from Gabon had met its finish exterior of the KNUST campus, but many other venomous snakes built their residence on the campus, and experienced near encounters with pupils and personnel that did not end in hurt to either celebration. Many of these activities involved green and black mambas in transit amongst the numerous flowering trees and shrubs and intent only on climbing fast up into the copious foliage of their new abode.

Just one of the a lot more memorable on-campus encounters was recounted by Professor Fred Abloh, head of the Division of Developing Technological know-how. Nervous to exhibit the fantastic traits of his low value development strategies, the professor experienced erected a solitary storey framework in which he offered himself with a new business office. Soon after going in, Fred returned to his workplace to find a cobra coiled on the chair behind his desk. ‘I turned to run out the doorway,’ he related, ‘but the reptile moved significantly speedier he was via the doorway just before I could achieve it!’ Unnecessary to say, the professor was before long reinstalled in his aged office environment in the permanent multi-storey college building.

Potentially the best probability of sustaining a bite arrived from an come upon with a evening adder. These ended up reputed not to glide absent when disturbed but to lie even now. As a consequence, they had been typically trodden on in the darkish. Despite the fact that not usually lifestyle-threatening to an grownup, the chunk of the evening adder could severely hurt a little boy or girl or animal. Regrettably, the pet dog which manufactured its property at the university horse society stables died from a evening adder bite in spite of the prompt and significant endeavours of the college veterinary surgeon.

Some guys have confronted a greater hazard with a happier outcome. At the University of Ghana, the curator of the reptile residence used to demonstrate visitors the lengthy scar on his suitable arm. It came from a self-inflicted cutlass slash. ‘I was up a tree hoping to capture a inexperienced mamba for Mr Cansdale,’ he connected, ‘when it turned and little bit me on the hand. So I lower my arm to suck out the poison.’