In 2020, the year of the official registration of Helping Hands in Snake Safety (HHiSS), we have managed to achieve a lot with very little means. From the registration in May onward, we have successfully conducted two Snake Awareness, Recognition and Handling training courses, together with Snakes Alive Zambia (https://www.facebook.com/SAZICofE/).
Participants, sponsors and trainer of the first HHiSS snake handling training.
We have established (and we coordinate) a group of snake removers across Zambia (with currently 36 registered removers of which 21 trained by HHiSS). We have conducted many sensitisation activites in both urban and rural communities in Lusaka, Livingstone and Mfuwe. We gave a lecture on snakes and first aid in snakebite management at the Veterinarian Studies Department of the University of Zambia (UNZA) and sensitised a group of veterinarians in Lusaka on the same.
Snake safety lecture at the University of Zambia
Besides these field activities, we have developed various information brochures and posters (and the list of these keeps growing) of which many can currently be found on our website, www.hhiss.com in the information station.
We have also extensively worked on developing a network with like-minded organisations. We have provided input to the concept note on Snakebite Incidence Assessment to the Ministry of Health. For the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) we have developed Catch and Release protocols for snake removals (which, once adopted, will be the first in Southern and Eastern Africa!). With the newly established Levi Mwanawasa Medical University, we are discussing the establishment of a Snakebite Management Training Centre for health professionals. Further, we have engaged organisations such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society Zambia (WECSZ) and Game Rangers International (GRI) to establish cooperation and funding opportunities which we hope will come to fruition in 2021.
Commmunity sensitisation in Mfuwe
Further, HHiSS has made numerous appearances on various radio shows, both in Lusaka and in Mfuwe, as well as several appearances on television, including a memorable live show on ZNBC (“the Update”). HHiSS has also been included in a long article about snakes in Zambia in the Sunday Mail.
Finally, via our established network of snake removers in Zambia, we have saved 492 snakes from people’s homes and workplaces and we took initiative to rescue a large, wounded Southern African Python with the support of Dr Tommy Asinga of Loving Hands Veterinarian services and Bruce Woods of A Different Wild Rehabilitation Sanctuary.
One of the HHiSS trainees handling a rescued Boomslang
We have managed to do all these activities with limited funding. However, we feel that the support we received must be mentioned:
The two training courses and two sensitisation activities in the farmers community of Chisamba were funded by First Aid Africa in Zambia (www.firstaidzambia.com / https://www.facebook.com/faazambia). They also financially supported the development of information brochures about the HHiSS organisation and on How To Keep Safe Around Snakes.
Save the Snakes (www.savethesnakes.org / facebook.com/savethesnakes) have financially supported the development of an information brochure and a poster on snakes, specifically for children.
In addition, we have received donations from various people for the work we do. This, in addition to selling of HHiSS T-shirts, of which the profits go towards conducting sensitisation activities in schools and youth clubs.
We would like to thank anyone who has contributed, either financially or in any other way, to the work that we have been able to do this year.
Our wish for 2021 is that more funding opportunities will emerge, leading to an increase in the implementation of HHiSS projects and therewith resulting in less snakebite cases and less snakes being killed in Zambia.
On behalf of the HHiSS board,
Marcel van Driel