Mamba Mountain

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Valerie’s photo of a huge black mamba with head raised, as seen in the bottom foreground

Valerie Linden and Sina Weier, graduate students from Germany doing research on the bats in this area shared an exciting bat netting experience with us during a braai last night at Peter and Frances Taylor’s home in Louis Trichardt, South Africa.

Valerie and Sina were trapping and netting for bats one night last week in a rocky area of the Goro Game Reserve dubbed “Mamba Mountain,” due to the number of Black mambas (Dendroaspis polylepis) in the area. These snakes are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and are the longest venomous snake in all of Africa, averaging around 2.2 to 2.7 m (7.2 to 8.9 ft) in length.

Within one hour of bat netting, these two fearless women had three encounters with mambas,“considered the most-feared snake species in Africa, and also possibly in the whole world.”

Their first encounter of the evening was when Valerie unknowingly stepped on a juvenile, which quickly escaped. Next Sina saw an adult about 3 meters long. She quickly jumped upon a rock to get out of its path. The mamba came towards Sina on the rock, looked up at her, then went around the rock and out of sight. When Valerie saw the mamba in the photograph, she first saw its body draped over a rock. She followed the body down to the ground, realizing the raised head of the snake was within a meter of her foot! (See head in bottom center of photo) She jumped backwards a couple of meters and took this picture of the snake she estimated to be 4-5 meters long. After the third black mamba sighting in one hour, the researchers decided to pack up their nets and work elsewhere. 

Merlin's signing copies of Nat'l Geo magazine and bat prints for Valerie and Sina, aka Valerina
Merlin’s signing copies of Nat’l Geo magazine and bat prints for Valerie and Sina, aka Valerina

 

We wish them continued good luck on the rest of their work here in South Africa–Be Safe!!!

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