24 March 2023
The sight of a Southern Rock Python, one of the largest snake species on the planet, is enough to grab anyone’s attention, particularly when spotted regularly close to home. This prompted one Widenham resident on the KZN South Coast to contact the team at Crocworld Conservation Centre for what turned out to be a real ‘bundu bashing’ rescue – all of which was captured on video.
“I got a call to say that there’s a very big snake living around a Widenham house close to the river,” explained Wade Kilian, Reptile Curator at Crocworld Conservation Centre in Scottburgh. “The man had seen it nearly every day, so I went out to investigate. It turned out to be a gravid (pregnant) Southern Rock Python living in very dense vegetation near the river.”
Kilian said that, while the capture didn’t take too long, it was quite an arduous undertaking: “There was a lot of bundu bashing to get to her, and I had to go in alone. I had actually captured a python in this area two years back, coiled around her eggs, and she was relocated further into the green belt, so it could very well have been the same snake. We decided it was in her best interest to relocate her away from humans which we did after the capture.”
He explained that, being a protected species, it’s illegal to keep or kill a Southern Rock Python, or even to capture one without a permit: “They are often poached for traditional medicine, or for their skin and meat. If you do come across one in the mid-KZN South Coast region, we encourage you to call us to relocate it.”
He said another interesting fact about Southern Rock Pythons are that they were the first recorded species to exhibit facultative melanism – an evolutionary adaptation where the snake’s skin darkens in colour during reproduction. Because it’s one of the few species to incubate the eggs maternally, it’s believed the colour change increases the heart rate during basking so she doesn’t have to spend as much time exposed out in the sunshine.
Although snake activity will be diminishing with the arrival of autumn and cooler weather, residents are urged to call the team at Crocworld Conservation Centre for any snake removals on the mid-KZN South Coast. For more information, visit www.crocworld.co.za, ‘Crocworld Conservation Centre’ on Facebook or call 039 976 1103. Contact Fish Eagle Café, call 083 658 7073 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.