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Opinion: The value of snakes

2022-10-05  Staff Reporter

Opinion: The value of snakes

Gift Kasika

A New Era article titled ‘Snakes torment northern teachers’ published on 26 September 2022 reported about snakes terrorising teachers at Elondo-West Combined School in the Omusati region.

The presence of the snakes has nothing to do with witchcraft as they claim. The snakes in question are the harmless tiger snakes, this behaviour is common for tiger snakes or any other snake species during this time because it’s their mating season.

During matting season, a female will leave behind a pleasant smell trail, which attracts males to follow the trail to locate the female. More than one male will pick up the trail, in this case the female might have been the first snake that was spotted and the other five were males which were following the trail.

Let’s look at the importance of snakes in our society. Without snakes, life could not be easy for us, among others, here are the three most important benefits snakes offer to our society

Medication: Most medications in today’s era contain a certain amount of snake venom, without snake venom, there wouldn’t be cure for some of the illnesses, which can claim people’s lives. The venom for snakes such as Copperhead is used in research for cures of breast cancer and tumors. Many snakes that are more venomous are medically significant in the survival against diseases and sickness such as heart and blood pressure.

The most important role of snakes is that of controlling the population of rodents, most snakes feed on rodents such as mice. Without a natural prey for rodents, their population could increase drastically. A large population of rodents will cause problems for farmers of maize, wheat and other horticulture produce, the harvest yields could be less or they would have to spend a lot more money on pesticides to control the population of rodents. Snakes eat rodents. After all, rodents carry ticks that causes up to 45 different types of diseases.

Snakes are also part of the ecosystem and they are a source of food for other animals, without snakes, most of the animals that prey on snakes will be affected, the second in line will be those that prey on badgers, eagles, secretary birds and so forth which feeds on snakes will be affected and the chain of affected will continue that way until it reaches us humans probably through agricultural outputs as the population of rodents become unbearable.

People have a perception that snakes are evil, stemming from the Bible, in the Bible, it says a snake influenced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and from then, Christians started hating on them. Contrary to this, there have never been a snake which had the ability to communicate with people in recorded history. A snake will only strike a person when it feel threatened, when it’s cornered or in self-defence. When given a chance, it will escape without any harm. A Black mamba is the fastest snake in the world, it can easily out-run a person and strike them but they rather use their enormous speed to escape rather than chase against people.

We will also need to conserve our biodiversity for our future generation, India recently shipped cheetahs because by the time, they realised their value, and they had killed the last one. Should we finish killing snakes, we will also end up importing them from elsewhere. Integrating a species in the ecosystem after extinction has proved to be cumbersome. Just recently, the USA decided to reintroduce Burmese Python by importing them from Asia, but because antelopes have forgotten how to escape python attack, the pythons ended up eating most antelopes and other mammals to a point that the population of antelopes in USA is near extinction. We can avoid such incidences by conserving what we have and let them evolve within the ecosystem.

Before you think of killing a snake, you should also think of the above values, it’s inappropriate to kill snakes, which are helping us this much and fighting a battle against rodents while we are sleeping.

2022-10-05  Staff Reporter

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