Fort Brown Primary School

On Tuesday the 11th of February I did a snake talk at Fort Brown Primary School. The school which can be found 40km from Grahamstown, on the Fort Beaufort Road road, is quaint but lovely. The students were attentive and the setting was nothing short of scenic.

The talk was attended by approximately 40 students, ranging from 10 to 13 years of age. Although scared at first, many took the opportunity in their stride, with many of them handling a snake for the first time in their lives. All in all it was a good day. Thank you to Albany Museum, and more specifically Kayakazi Citwa for facilitating the talk.

On Friday the 10th of February I did a snake talk at Carlisle Bridge Farm Primary School. The school which can be found 40km from Grahamstown, on the Bedford road, is quaint but lovely. The students were attentive and the setting was nothing short of scenic. The talk was attended by approximately 50 students, ranging from 7 to 13 years of age. Although scared at first, many took the opportunity in their stride, with most of them handling a snake for the first time in their lives. All in all it was a good day. Thank you to Albany Museum, and more specifically Kayakazi Citwa for facilitating the talk.

Probus Grahamstown

On the 30th of September I attended the Highlander restaurant and bar to deliver a snake awareness talk to members of the the Grahamstown Probus Club. The talk was incredibly well received with only a handful of pensioners falling asleep on the day. The talk was followed by a vigorous array of questions and then a lovely lunch. All in all, it was a lovely day which both I, and hopefully my audience, enjoyed.

ECPTA Rangers Day 2019

On August the 23rd I attended at the ECPTA (Eastern Cape Parks Tourism Association) Field Rangers Day at Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, to showcase some of the reptiles found in the Albany area. I represented ZEML (Zoology and Entomology Molecular Lab) along with my supervisor; Dr Shelley Edwards and my lab colleague Anthony Evlambiou. We were also joined by members of CBC (Centre for Biological Control), who showcased some of the invasive plants found in the area.

The day was a great success and our stand, that comprised of snakes and lizards, was well received by all who attended, with most of the rangers in attendance taking the opportunity to handle their first snake.

On the 16th of August, I delivered a snake demonstration for students of Shaw Park Primary School. Although young, the students were incredibly attentive and took every opportunity to ask questions about the snakes on display. At the end of the demontration, almost all the kids took the opportunity to handle some of the non-venomous snakes, some of them for the first time. All in all it was a great experience, and the first time I had delivered a snake talk at the school, which is always a bonus.

On the 16th of August I traveled to Sibuya Private Game Reserve, about 10km from Kenton-on-Sea, and presented a snake talk for the rangers working there. The talk focused on the ‘Snakes of Albany’ and discussed snake biology, snake identification and snakebite treatment. The talk was well received and was followed by a short snake handling tutorial, in which I showcased the correct management strategy for problem snakes. Following this, all the rangers took the opportunity to handle some of the non-venomous species on display.

The whole event was filmed by a British film crew, whom were filming a documentary segment about British expats working in South Africa. Thanks goes to Sibuya Private Game Reserve for inviting me. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day, I look forward to seeing the final film segment on TV next year.

On 14 August, I delivered a snake talk to Grade 9 learners at Victoria Girls High school. The aim was to expose the girls to the amazing world of reptiles, and more specifically snakes. The talk ran for 30 minutes and consisted of general information about Grahamstown reptile diversity, followed by a short breakdown of snake biology and the common snakes of the area.

The talk was followed by a 15 minute show-and-tell session, in which I showcased some some live specimens to the grade. Overall, it was a great experience, with everyone thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to interact with live snakes, a first for some of the students. Special thanks goes to Chad Emslie (VG teacher) for organising it and to Victoria Girls High school for hosting me.

Last year I was interviewed by Anima McBrown in connection with my snake-related work in and around Grahamstown. The result was this awesomely written article in this years edition of the Rhodos Magazine. The publication is dedicated to the communication and advancement of Rhodes University, and I am very proud to feature in it. You can find the article in the attached PDF Document.

https://www.ru.ac.za/media/rhodesuniversity/content/digitalpublications/RHODOS_WEB_FINAL_72ppi_high.pdf

On the 27th of July 2019, I did a snake presentation for members of the Grahamstown Garden Club in Grahamstown. The talk was well received with people eagerly asking questions throughout the talk. I spoke about the common and endemic species of snake found in the Albany area, and what to do if one encounters a snake in their daily lives. In addition to detailing the snakes of the area, I also took the opportunity to discuss, in brief, the lizards, tortoises and scorpions found in the area. The talk was capped off with a short explanation of snake venom and what to do in the unlikely instance of a snakebite. Thank you to the Grahamstown Garden Club for having me, and taking the opportunity to learn more about their local herpetofauna.

During mid-June I ventured coast wards to do a frog talk for the Probus Club, at the Port Alfred Ski Boat Club. Check out the story, which was covered in ‘Talk of the Town’, the local Port Alfred newspaper.

On the 5th of June, I presented a snake awareness talk and demonstration for school students at Thomas Baines Nature Reserve, in honour of World Environmental Day. The talk was attended by various-aged primary school students from multiple different Grahamstown Schools.

There are few thing in this world as wonderful as watching a child handle a snake for the first time. It is the amalgamation of fear and awe, it is joy personified.

Although young, the students were incredibly receptive to what I had to say and almost every single one, no matter how apprehensive, took the opportunity to touch the harmless brown house snake on display. The talk was organised by the staff of Thomas Baines Nature Reserve in collaboration with the Eastern Cape Parks Board. It was a great day all round and I am happy I could be part of it.

During mid-June I ventured coast wards to do a frog talk for the Probus Club, at the Port Alfred Ski Boat Club. The talk was incredibly well received with over 80 people attending on the day. In addition to the members of the club, the talk was also attended by Talk of the Town (Local Port Alfred newspaper). In the talk I discussed basic frog biology, behavior and the threats that face amphibians.

The talk was capped off with a quick run through of all the frog species found in the Eastern Cape area. I thoroughly enjoyed giving this talk, because of the novel content coupled with an incredibly receptive audience. Thanks to the Probus Club for hosting me and for showing such a keen interest in one of our most underappreciated animals… frogs.

A leap into the frog world

Parabuthus capensis