Firstly thanks to everyone who came to our FreeMe Open Day. It was great fun, but it was a learning curve for us so please send us any suggestions on how we can improve on it. Thanks also to all the people who helped make it possible.
The Jumping Castle was a great hit with all the kids and was donated free of charge. Daryl gave up his time to come and erect it and take it down and we really are grateful. Please support him. Fairfield came up trumps as usual and donated drinking yoghurt which is so much healthier than all the fizzy stuff.
Our volunteers rallied around and Lloyd Smith Junior gave a very interesting talk on snake identification and what to do when you find these slithery intruders around the house. Since then we have removed a rinkhals (ring-necked spitting cobra) from a drain at the Boston Police station which caused great excitement and, boy, would it have been a good day to go on a crime spree in the area, as everyone was hanging around to see how we coped.
Next, Lloyd and Roz set off on what we thought was a routine snake call out in Lincoln Meade in Pietermaritzburg. Used to our more normal snakes, we were certainly not prepared for this one. The family involved had two children, one at crawling age, so when we did not find the snake on first attempt, we decided to keep looking. Thank God we did. We spotted the snake behind a cushion in the lounge and when Lloyd caught it behind the head with his grab stick, it opened its mouth and there was the telltale black of one of our most aggressive and venomous snakes, the Black Mamba.
Lloyd has been a volunteer with us for a while and we had him sent on the Pure Venom Snake Handling course, but nothing prepares you for an encounter like this. At about two metres, it was small for a Mamba, but certainly one of the biggest snakes we have dealt with, and the knowledge that there is no anti-venom for the toxin gets the adrenalin pumping. We managed to get it into a bucket, but as it was already injured and died later. We are so proud of Lloyd – the thought of one of the kids coming up against a snake of that calibre, just makes the blood run cold. The chances of a happy outcome were negligible.
Let's hope that this was a once in a lifetime experience for Lloyd who handled it like the true star he is.
Read more about FreeMe here.