Oh yes, we dó realise that this blog post's title is provocative. And it is meant to be, because we wanted to draw your attention!
Snakes and snake safety in Africa have always been regarded as a hobby of white men. And largely, it still is. But, slowly, this is changing. In Zambia, the establishment of the Zambian Snakes and Other Crawlies group on Facebook in 2016 has led to a slow adjustment in mind set. The concept is no longer 'foreigner teaching Zambians'.. Zambians are teaching and advising fellow Zambians about the importance of snakes, the proper ways to keep safe around them, what to do to keep them away, etc. At the official establishment of our NGO we wanted to ensure that we as an organisation reflect that development. It is therefore that we established a board with active members from the facebook group who were born in Zambia. Not to please the registration entities, but to strengthen our position and approach. People trust their own community.
In all these developments, Asimbuyu Mwangala has been key. She is a Zambian woman and we are very proud to have her as on our HHiSS board! For years she had been an active member of the Zambian Snakes facebook group and she works as an agricultural research assistant in Chisamba. In that position, she provides important access to the agricultural sector, a HHiSS target group.
Asimbuyu with a spotless Spotted Bush Snake
When we approached Asimbuyu with the request to become one of the five board members of HHiSS in 2020, she agreed immediately. HHiSS henceforth paid for her Snake awareness and recognition course to ensure her basic snake knowledge was secured. She then sourced sponsorship herself, to attend the snake handling training and HHiSS provided her with snake handling tools. Since then, she has been an active snake remover and her colleagues at the Agricultural Research Centre know whom to call if a snake is found. She has done great work in teaching her many colleagues and saved snakes such as Brown House Snakes, Eastern Bark Snakes, Olive Whip Snakes, among many others.
We hope that in the years to come, more and more Zambians and specially Zambian women will become active in snake conservation and snake safety activities. Asimbuyu has already proven herself as a great example and role model. Let's hope others will follow soon!