On 22 and 23 March, HHiSS visited Livingstone to give a series of snake talks to two schools in Livingstone - the Tujantana Tongabezi Trust School and the Acacia International School. At each school, HHiSS conducted two sessions. At Tujantana, one session was given to 52 children of grades 8 and 9 and to 52 children of grades 6 and 7. At Acacia, sessions were held for grades 1, 2 and 3 (37 children) and grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 (22 children). The total number of children reached is 163. In addition, several teachers and parents were present at each session as well. all children were handed an information brochure on snake safety, specifically developed for children with funding from Save the Snakes (www.safethesnakes.org). A PDF of this brochure can be found and downloaded in the information station on www.hhiss.com.
To ensure that the children at each school always have access to information about all the common snakes in the area, two "Common snakes of Livingstone posters" were handed out to each school, to be displayed at public places. These posters, which were developed with funding by Save the Snakes as well, depict the common dangerous and harmless snakes in the Livingstone area.
During the snake sensitisation sessions, a live Brown House Snake was demonstrated which the children were allowed to touch. The snake was borrowed for this purpose from Kalimba reptile farm in Lusaka (www.kalimbazambia.com), with whom HHiSS has had an ongoing partnership since its establishment.
During the sessions, children were given information about how many snakes live in Zambia, ow many are dangerous and not dangerous and photos were shown of the dangerous snakes in the Livingstone area, as well as the most common harmless snakes.
To demonstrate the sizes of the largest snake of Zambia (Southern African Python, 5.5 meter), the longest venomous snake (the Black Mamba, 4 meter) and Zambia's shortest snake (the Incognito Worm Snake (15 cm), the HHiSS coordinator used a string depicting the lengths together with one of the students.
The day after the sessions, the children of the grades 1, 2 and 3 at Acacia school were assigned to write something about what they have learned. They did this by making fantastic art works depicting snakes.
"My snake is the Puff Adder. It is short and fat. You can find it in Zambia"- Bella Evans
"Stay calm when a snake bites you and call an adult to take you to the hospital. The name of my snake is Brown House Snake" - Juanita
"My name is Niel. I learnt about the Spotted Bus Snake. It can grow quite long" - Niel
In order to make the trip from Lusaka to Livingstone possible, the schools put funding together to cover the costs for accommodation and fuel. The sensitisation activities themselves were funded through an online birthday present fund raiser by Ms Choti Singh from Save the Snakes. HHiSS is very grateful for the support by both Ms. Singh, Save the Snakes and the Tujantana Tongabezi Trust School and the Acacia International Schools. Finally, we thank Kalimba for allowing us to borrow their snake which created enormous interest and enthusiasm among the children. Finally, we thank Craig Evans who reached out to HHiSS and made the trip happen!