Sharon Gilbert, Mia Baker and the Winterskloof Green Bobbies Siphiwe Mofokeng, Tom Mncwabe and Mboneni Bhengu attended the Snake Talk by Pat McKrill at the Mountain Home School in Sweetwaters. This is what Sharon had to say:
Snake expert Pat McKrill gave an informative talk in the Sweetwaters area near Winterskloof, Hilton on the 30th October 2013 as part of the Eco-Schools portfolio sharing day. Present were teachers and pupils from several disadvantaged schools in Sweetwaters, as well as the Winterskloof Conservancy’s alien invasive plant clearing team comprising our three “Green Bobbies”.
The objective of the talk was to introduce listeners to the need for the conservation of snakes, and dispel some of the myths and fears surrounding these creatures. Pat did an excellent job of encouraging adults and children to engage in the talk, and asked for volunteers to come up and handle the selection of non-venomous snakes that he had brought along. He used understandable and locally-appropriate examples to teach why we shouldn’t kill or target snakes. One such reason which seemed to resound with the audience was that they go a long way to keeping the very unpopular frog population in check!
The audience was given valuable information on what to do when encountering snakes, with a clear message that they have a right to exist as much as humans do and in most instances would move away from people should they be given the chance to. The talk was given in an informal way and the snakes were presented to us in a manner that was not at all threatening (even for those of us whose snake fears border on phobias!). The experience was a first for many of the people in the room and was received with much enthusiasm and interest. Many thanks to the Midlands Conservancies Forum and WESSA Eco-Schools KZN for funding and organising the talk, and for Mountain Home School for hosting us.
The photos tell the story:
Pat showing the kids how to hold a snake
Pat explaining about snakes, how they live, what they eat and how to avoid a confrontation. The children look dubious!
Mia showing her daughter a snake, while Tom and Mboneni look on in horror! Siphiwe is showing Pat a photo of a long, black snake the Green Bobbies encountered in the Valley
Mia giving Mboneni a chance to hold a snake while Tom looks on.
Pat giving Siphiwe a snake to hold!