Black mamba closes down KZN school

18 January 2020 - 09:56 By NIVASHNI NAIR
A KwaZulu-Natal school was forced to shut its doors for three days after a black mamba took residence in one of the classrooms
A KwaZulu-Natal school was forced to shut its doors for three days after a black mamba took residence in one of the classrooms
Image: Tyrone Ping

A slithery “pupil” did not make any friends on the first day of school on Wednesday, instead prompting the principal to call the police.

A black mamba caused such a panic that pupils from Olwasini Junior Primary School in Amahlongwa on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast were sent home when it was discovered that the snake had taken residence in one of the classrooms.

The school's principal, Mpume Mvubu, explained that staff had noticed the presence of the two-metre black mamba on the roof of the school.

“We called the police and Crocworld Conservation Centre to rescue us! On the third day, they broke the wall, and the snake was hiding deep inside. I’ve never experienced this. It was a crisis for the school — this is a fast snake and very dangerous.”

Herpetologists from Crocworld Conservation Centre in Scottburgh together with police were called out to rescue the school’s newest classmate but the snake’s chosen hiding spot made for a challenging rescue, resulting in success three days later.

“The school staff identified the snake and contacted us to retrieve it, but it took three days before we were finally able to get hold of the snake. We went on Wednesday afternoon, Thursday from midmorning and then again on Friday.

“The snake was hiding in the actual brickwork near the ceiling, inside the wall. It would be spotted but we couldn’t find the hole it was getting in through. On Friday, the school staff saw it and were able to keep an eye on it while we were called to attend,” said Crocworld conservation manager Martin Rodrigues.

The delicate retrieval of the snake meant that the Crocworld members had to break through part of the wall without harming the snake.

However, Rodrigues said once access was finally made, the snake rescue was fairly straightforward.

He said because of the danger posed by the black mamba, the school pupils were kept away from class for the duration of the snake capture

“It’s important to remember that snake captures are done by professionals. You need to know what you’re doing, use the right equipment and understand the behaviour of the animal — especially with a snake like a black mamba.”

 “Thanks to the efforts by the staff and members of SAPS, we were able to successfully remove the snake unharmed. It is about to shed its skin, so we will feed it and keep it until then, before releasing it into a secure location, away from human habitation.”