One Snake At A Time

      21/2/2024       Next-->

With our plethora of venomous and non venomous snake, Matabeleland is indeed fortunate to have dedicated snake handlers on stand by and always available to help at a moments notice.

In Zimbabwe we have cobras, mambas, pythons, boomslangs, puff adders amongst others clamouring for attention in this hot weather.

Ahmed Esat is one such snake handler, his passion for snakes has led him to initiate a fascinating Snake Park in Montrose, Bulawayo - a most attractive recreational and educational facility housing a wide variety of reptiles. Ahmed has a very very busy life. In top demand as a snake handler and indeed an authority on these valuable creatures, he finds it difficult to cope with the demands of his callout schedule. Let's take a look at Ahmeds diary from one day alone last weekend.

"What did you do on Sunday

At something past 6 in the morning was woken by a phone call from a lady convinced that she had a snake in her ceiling. Let's forget the obvious possibility that it may have been a lizard, agama, bird/owl; mouse, rat, squirrel, bushbaby or even monitor lizard. Let us be Bulawayo and jump directly without passing begin or collecting 200 and assume, correction, know that it is the worst possible case - NYOKA (SNAKE) I love my Beautiful Bulawayo and my people - Go Big or Go Khaya!

Around 8ish I received a phone call from the ZimParks Senior Area Manager for Hwange, my good friend Joroma.
He explained that he had a Dutch tourist family that were touring and camping in the Park and they had an unwanted, possibly dangerous, seemingly grumpy, passenger tagging along with them in their vehicle dampening their African excursion. I thought he was overreacting and explained that Mother in-laws are not that dangerous and have feelings too...our call was interrupted by 2 other calls!

First was to relocate a rock monitor from a garden. Second was to please remove a snake that was 3 meters high in a tree outside their front wall that was definitely going to kill their dogs. I attended both and safely removed and relocated both offenders.
While on these rescues I had made and received several calls and sent various identification pictures to ZimParks and the Dutch tourist. My friend Joroma pleaded for me to come save and assist. The deciding factor was when Joost Langendonck (Tourist) assured me that all was under control and that several hunters guides were dealing with the situation - they had doused the mats and were about to light a match to smoke it out of their very fancy, fully kitted hired 4x4.......I prepped and left!

We arrived safely - stripped, searched, found and relocated back into the National Park a 1,2 meter Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja Mossambica) affectionately nick named Mamazala (Mother in-law)
As a matter of interest I had received another 5 calls whilst travelling to and from Hwange National Park.

Ahmed Esat is Proudly Zimbo.

"Over the past couple of years I have travelled thousands of kilometres across Matabeleland saving lives one snake/reptile at a time.
My day at times can begin before 6 a.m with a wake up snake call and end with a 10pm call for help.
The situations, bite victims, age, location and language of the callers may vary but the questions are ALL the's extremely difficult to maintain my composure and sanity.

I load and unload my vehicle daily.
I pack my car and in it I put:
Snake tongs of varying lengths depending on the species of snake or situation.
Hooks/ L-sticks, tubes, containers and a dustbin incase of Black Mamba's or Pythons.
My high powered 'Ledlenser' torch torch goes with me everywhere, night and day,step ladder, pick, shovel, ropes, safety goggles and not forgetting the absolute essentials -running shoes and a cold Redbull......

I average 800 kilometres on call outs most months and this is heavy on my car maintenance.
I feel blessed to be able to help my people and deeply honoured to be asked by some very influential members of the community and businessman to provide them with my "wish list'.

If I had to write a "fantasy wish list" it would definitely be titled "For the community from the community"
It would include:

A Quad bike for local call outs and hospital and school visits
Off-road worthy vehicle
Back up torches/batteries
Weed cutters

My grandson Lincoln has inherited his celebrated Mother's journalistic curiosity and spent as many hours as we could allow with Ahmed at the Snake Park, and while we were there Robyn was intrigued at just how much more Ahmed could do for the community as far as his frequent call outs, extensive travel all around the country, and the time spent on this essential service, which he has, for many years, been doing pro bono!!

The Global Snakebite Initiative USA Foundation states there are 138,000 deaths globally from snake bites each year.

Ahmed did not ask us for help, indeed he is most humble in his but we seriously feel that something should be done before we lose his massive contribution to our safety.



Dedicated General Manager of the Bulawayo Branch of the SPCA for over twenty years.
What a legacy she has left behind, who ever replaces her, will have to have very big boots to fill.
One is on duty/call for 24hours, 8 days a week, month after month.

A very small example, every annual Guy Fawkes night, Berry and her ever supportive husband Ginks, would drive round the suburbs and townships of Bulawayo, from dusk until dawn, searching for terrified dogs that had run away from their homes, terrified senseless by the continuing horrendous explosions - not forgetting that what human's can hear from 20 feet away, dogs can hear from 80 feet away.

Berry took over from me in 2000 when I was made ZNSPCA's National Co-ordinator, - she went on to attend one of my Inspector's Training courses, and the rest is history.
Under her leadership it became the best run SPCA in the country as she maintained the highest standards of animal welfare under her watch!

Berry learnt from me that all her decisions must always be made in the best interest of animals - not necessarily humans - some found that hard to accept.
In those days, we were lucky to have a really hands on Chairman Liz Walker- many of your readers will remember her and her very supportive, hard working Committee, many of whom are sadly no longer with us.
Liz and I are in touch from time to time, and she still has the highest regard for Berry.

My late partner Roly Marais loved taking off Berry's favourite expression when faced with a major problem - 'b---dy hell'! - but with that attitude, Berry never gave up on any animal that came into the care of Bulawayo SPCA.

Thank you Berry for All that you have done for so many years for those that cannot speak for themselves - animal welfare in Zimbabwe owes you a huge debt of love and respect..........

Meryl Harrison'

I came across your post on the internet that mentioned Kerrie and Ashleigh Duckworth.

I've been searching for their mother (Mrs Duckworth) that taught me at Filabusi Primary School (1982 to 1985) since 1996.

She did a lot for me, including transferring me to Milton Junior School as she was leaving Filabusi, and I would like to thank her and reminisce.

May you please pass on my details to her or the twins, and ask them to contact me. Just to jog her memory, I won the Merit Shield on my last day of school at Filabusi Primary School in 1985.


Thabo Ntuli
Mobile: +61 478 701 380