Black Mamba

Jan 09, 2019
If I remember correctly this happened about mid morning, we were driving along a dusty trail when one of the trackers let out a yell, the Land Rover came to an abrupt halt and everyone bailed out. I thought some good tracks had been spotted, we were hunting Ellie at the time, but I stayed in the back of the Land Rover and took the opportunity to change the SD card in my little pocket camera - which always lived my top right hand shirt pocket. I suddenly realized that everything had gone quiet, I looked up - about 50 yds back down the trail everyone was spread out all pointing to the bush, Jeff caught my eye. He put a finger to his lip, meaning quiet and waved me to him while pointing to the bush just in front of him. I ran up to Jeff, I looked where he was pointing and the movement of a large snake caught my eye.

JAN-BlackMamba-Image
Botswana 2008

Contrary to what many people may think it is not common to see snakes in Africa, my only thought was to get some good photos, I was solely focused on that and chased after the snake, completely oblivious to the shouting from everyone else. The snake was moving fast, just a continuous smooth flow, I was having to duck under branches, dodge round thorn bushes and watch my footing. This snake was moving very fast, with my little pocket digital camera I needed to get in front of him, stop, find him in the view finder, zoom it and snap a photo - this was all proving very difficult. After getting about 15 yds from him I finally realized that I may be getting some reasonable photos, I was just hoping at least one would be good. Now I suddenly realized that the yelling, cursing and swearing coming from everyone else was all directed at me and that everyone was still back on the road.

They were all calling desperately for me to return to the road and get away from the snake. I glanced at them and then I turned back to have one last look at “My snake” as he raced away. I turned and walked back to the road. When I reached the road Jeff proceeded to put his arm over my should and then tell me that “these snakes are really not my friends.” He continued, “that was a Black mamba, easily the biggest one I have ever seen and they are normally deadly!” I had been extremely stupid and very lucky. When I returned to Joberg I purchased an excellent little book on “Snakes and Snake Bites in Southern Africa” - quote: “Danger to man. This is without a doubt one of the deadliest snakes in the world. It has large quantities of a very potent venom and the ability to inject a lot of venom in a single bite. Because of its length, it may also bite chest-high.” “The Black Mamba seldom permits a close approach (within 40 meters) if corned or threatened it will gape, exposing the black inner lining of it’s mouth, and will spread a narrow hood while waving the tongue slowly up and down. Any sudden movement at this stage will be met with a series of rapid strikes, often with fatal results." The Black Mamba is a very strong muscular snake, enabling them to move fast and lift approximately one third of their total length off the ground, this fellow was estimated to be at least 13 ft in length, he could have turned and struck me in the chest. In which case my time may only have been minutes.

I believe that animals have a “sixth sense” and that man also has this sense but it is undeveloped in us as man is far removed from living in nature. Did that Mamba run away because I was not emitting any fear? Let me add on this occasion it was out of ignorance not bravery. Had I shown fear would the Mamba have turned on me? I have always tried to “listen” to this sixth sense, keep in tune with nature and avoid eye contact with my quarry, not show signs of fear or even get super excited when hunting. Showing signs of fatigue, well that is another story!

So far this was proving to be an exciting Safari, I wondered what tomorrow would bring. Little did I know that this Safari would be the most memorable of them all, no big trophies on this trip, but lot’s of adventure and I was only now awakening to the fact that I thirsted for adventure. Keep your powder dry, Mr Wolverine

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