The Star Late Edition

‘Not all snakes are all that bad’


TWENTY-three-year-old Denzel Ncube from Vleifontei­n in Limpopo is convinced that not all snakes are as dangerous and poisonous as people portray them to be, and we humans just need to learn about snakes in order to understand them well and act accordingl­y if one bites us.

Ncube’s love for snakes was discovered at an early age when he was found playing with a big snake at the age of two, and the snake did nothing to him as the two were joyfully playing together until the snake left.

His mother was shocked after witnessing this and attributed it to a curse or an evil spirit. Little did she know that it was a blessing and an indication of what her son was destined for. Twenty-one years later, Ncube is now a reptile preservati­onist and a snake catcher whose aim is to protect these reptiles that are feared by many.

He said since that “beautiful” encounter with the snake when he was very young, he had wanted to do nothing else but expand his knowledge of these creatures. “I was given this gift by God, and I have plenty of love for animals, especially reptiles. I help all species by rescuing them and then taking them back to the wild.’’

He said he dreams of starting an educationa­l centre to teach the youth about the importance of looking after animals of all kinds, that they do not have to be scared of any animal and that they should take the time to study animals.

‘’My own mother advised me to continue with my strange love of snakes, even though she still fears that something might happen.’’ Said Ncube’s mother, Winnie Mueda: “I thought my child was joking when he said he wanted to work with snakes. I’m fearful, but my son loves them, she said, adding that he successful­ly completed the African reptiles and venom course in advanced snake handling two years ago.”

He further explained that he had taken a snake ID, snakebite treatment and venomous snake handling course. “Snakes are commonly associated with witchcraft in African culture, further complicati­ng the already strained relationsh­ip between humans and reptiles,’’ he said.

Ncube is pleading for financial assistance to turn his dream into reality. ‘’I managed to get two hectares of land where I want to build a centre that will benefit the whole community,’’ he said.

 ?? ?? DENZEL Ncube

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