On the day we were out trying to spot a desert elephant or two, we had just got back into our jeep when a black mamba slithered across our path. The mamba's reputation goes before it. For the wary traveller, it is sometimes hard to separate fact from myth.
The black mamba is in fact an olive green colour (but I wouldn't advise you to approach one just for the sake of proving me wrong). At 3 to 4 metres long, it is Africa's largest venomous snake, and with an ability to move at up to 18 kmph, its fastest. It's not though the world's most deadly: that honour goes to the Inland Taipan: one bite by all accounts (and don't ask me how they know this), can kill 200,000 mice.
Death is not an inevitable end after a mamba bite, in fact only 20% of attacks end in death. Despite all the horror stories, mambas are not programmed to attack without provocation: attacks are normally the result of people encroaching on their territory. However it is true that when really upset, a Mamba can rear up by almost half its length to frighten and attack its prey or tormentor, but mortality is more likely in Africa following a bout of Ebola or tick fever.
This is not to say that an attack is to be taken lightly: 2 drops of the venom are sufficient to kill a human adult, and there are 20 drops in an average attack! The venom contains both neurotoxins, which attack the nervous system, and cardiotoxins, which attack the heart.
Symptoms include loss of control of the tongue and slurred speech, mental confusion, blurred vision, quickly leading to paralysis of all muscle groups and drowsiness. (These effects are NOT to be confused with the side effects of drinking a bucket of rum which can be fairly similar). Hospitalisation is a must. Treatment may involve an antivenom, but, there is a risk of allergy. Patients' own bodies can heal themselves under medical supervision and paralysis can disappear completely within 12 hours.
My information comes from an amalgam of sources, but mainly from the following website.
I don't intend to be a scare mongerer, in fact, after travelling in the tropics off and on for almost 10 years, it was only last year that I encountered any dangerous creatures at all - and of course, then became fascinated. While on our bush safari to visit the Himba tribe, we were sitting around the campfire telling tall tales (as one does), with only the light of the fire and one or two torches.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sand-coloured “scuttle”. I announced the gathered assembly that we had a scorpion in our midst, but was met with ridicule, it being patently obvious that a Scot working in an office in Brussels was hardly in a strong position to diagnose danger in the African bush. Nevertheless we all went hunting, and sure enough, there was a tiny sand-coloured scorpion beside my stool!
To avoid unwanted surprises, make sure that when you camp, you close your tent up properly at all times. Also “close” your boots when you’re not wearing them, by covering the top with a sock or seaking them into a bag, knotted at the top.
Although you must be very lucky (or unlucky) to actually meet one of these scorpions (see picture) or a snake, especially, if you are not camping outside overnight, there still IS a chance.
This really wonderful exemplar of a scorpion was discovered by my boyfriend after he moved the bedside table in our bungalow room in Gross Barmen.
I am not sure whether it is poisonous or not, but we decided to put it outside, since I for sure didn't wanted to share my room with it. :-)
Anyway, I think it was as afraid of us as we of it....
It is true that you are advise of snakes and scorpions ... but you never really think you are going to find one in your way.
It did happend to me. I was walking in Aus Klein Vista Camp before sunset with John and Shona and suddenly we founded this big snake in our way. It was a strange snake because she didn't move waving and was a little flat. We did get near to make pics ...
It was a very dangerous snake, a mortal one, ... I don't remember the name, but we learn after how dangerous it was
This is what JohanJume have comment at my page:
"JohanJume Sat Jan 29, 2005 13:36 CET
... The snake in the pic is known as a Puffadder (Bitis Arietans). Only one of the most venomous snakes in Namibia. Though it seems lazy and will try to keep away from humans, it will kill if confronted "
So I was wright in put it at Warning tips and not at other :))) Thanks JohanJume :)
When you are visiting Etosha NP, you are required to remain within your car, except at designated rest stops.
Sure, part of this is to protect the park, its environs and the animals. But, it's also for YOUR protection. These wild animals could very well choose to attack at a moment's notice. As you can see from the picture below, the wild is a dangerous place. Stay in your car and keep your tail. :) (see picture)
lots of black-backed jackals are around the camp at night.
DON'T LEAVE YOUR SHOES OUTSIDE YOUR TENT.
(despite the advise SirRichard gave me before going "don't leave your shoes out the tent or the jackals will still them" ... I did and that is what did happened.. a jackal took one of my shoes ... my only good walking shoes ... but ... thanks god I did find it after a while ... I was very lucky)
We came across a region that was infested with crickets. You literally couldn't take two steps without squishing several of these critters. I'm not too bothered by insects, but this place gave me the creeps.
When you stay on a campsite, be careful with the big baboons. Try to scare them, throw stones at them (no not to hit them, just to scare them) so that they leave the campsite. They come to the campsite looking for food in the waste bins, but when they don't find anything in there they might continue their search for food in your tent, I saw a tent who was visited by a baboon, well I can tell you it wasn't a lovely sight, the sleeping bags were completely destroyed, baboons do not use zippers to open someting, they just use their big theet.
All around Namibia are venomenous snakes. The most dangerous one to travellers (especially to hikers) might be the puff adder, as it is one of the few reptils, which will not hide, when the unwary hiker comes along. Most other snakes will be out of sight, long before you approach them, so it's unlikely to get into problems.
If you, however, see a snake, don't get to close or go after it for a snapshot. This picture was made out of pur car (windows shut!)
If you plan on camping in Namibia, you must take extra precautions against scorpion bites. Always wear your hiking boots, not sandals and never leave your tent unzipped.
Snakes are a natural and logical danger in a dry area. They may hide in the sand of the dunes or in the grass, they may attack all of a sudden or wait for you to step on it. Wear good shoes!!!