Saint Lu­cia’s Snakes in the Spot­light

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Staff from the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust (SLNT) and Forestry De­part­ment, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Fauna & Flora In­ter­na­tional and Dur­rell Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Trust, mounted an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Blue Coral Mall, Cas­tries on July 15, 2016 as part of ac­tiv­i­ties to com­mem­o­rate World Snake Day, cel­e­brated every year on July 16th.

Saint Lu­cia has four liv­ing species of snakes, all of them found nowhere else in the world. Only one of the four species is venomous.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, the first of its kind on-is­land, drew scores of cu­ri­ous on­look­ers hop­ing to catch a glimpse of the tiny harm­less worm or thread snake, the tree-dwelling boa con­stric­tor and the ex­tremely venomous snake of the pit viper fam­ily - the fer de lance. Vis­i­tors lis­tened in be­wil­der­ment as Forestry Of­fi­cers ex­plained that snakes are ac­tu­ally afraid of hu­mans and will only strike if they feel threat­ened.

“The ex­hi­bi­tion was suc­cess­ful and we were happy to in­ter­face with a broad cross sec­tion of the pub­lic in an ef­fort to ed­u­cate them on the four dif­fer­ent snake species found on St. Lu­cia. Peo­ple typ­i­cally have an in­nate fear of snakes and have all sorts of myths and mis­con­cep­tions re­gard­ing them. There­fore, it is im­por­tant that we host such ac­tiv­i­ties in or­der to de­bunk those myths and teach peo­ple the facts about our snakes,” said Mr. Pius Haynes, Wildlife Of­fi­cer of the Forestry De­part­ment.

A num­ber of to­kens were handed to in­di­vid­u­als who were brave enough to view the ex­hibits, but not be­fore they pro­vided an­swers to ques­tions posed to them from ‘snake ex­perts’ on hand. Ac­cord­ing to SLNT’s Pro­gramme As­sis­tant – Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­tre, Ms. Eleanor Mau­rille, “It was in­ter­est­ing to note that a few in­di­vid­u­als were able to iden­tify the var­i­ous snake species found in Saint Lu­cia or to name the rarest snake in the world and its place of habi­tat. Some, on the other hand, had no clue, a clear in­di­ca­tion that more needs to be done to ed­u­cate the pop­u­lace on the var­i­ous wildlife species that in­habit our is­land.”

The ac­tiv­ity pre­sented the op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate in­di­vid­u­als who may en­counter these crea­tures and pro­vided guid­ance on the best way to deal with the sin­gle venomous species to en­sure their safety. It also sought to high­light the im­por­tance of snakes within our ecosys­tem as a greater aware­ness can help raise sup­port to un­der­stand and live with these elu­sive an­i­mals.

A boa con­stric­tor out of its nat­u­ral habi­tat and on dis­play at Blue Coral Mall.

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