On our second day, just coming back from our night game drive in the Kruger National Park, en route to our private lodge bordering the reserve we… Still enthusiastically discussing the sightings we had just encountered we drove with quite some speed towards the waiting dinner.
Keeping my eyes mainly trained towards the road in anticipation of the ever-present domestic cattle or worse Kudu or Elephant, a stick in the middle of the road, nearly went by unnoticed, if it had not moved all of a sudden. Not really seeing what it was, I hit the breaks as hard as my passengers comfort allowed and brought the car to a standstill a few meters behind the “Stick”
The car had barely stopped and I was out, running back along the road. And there it was! In the dim red rear light a smallish (40cm) Snake was crossing the road.
Upon my approach it tried to make a “run” for it. I neither knew what kind of snake it was, (the mud-covered rear lights 10m away were of no help!) nor did I have any tools or equipment with me to catch the snake. However, having spent more than 30 years catching snakes, I thought: “How difficult can it be to catch this oversized Worm?”
But, was I in for a surprise! The little bugger gave quite a fight, twisting, striking, attacking, and hissing!! After several minutes and with the help of my slip slop I caught the critter. With a pounding heart and some sweat on my forehead I brought the snake back to the vehicle. I think the feeling of my clients where…? “Mixed” to say the least!
I put the snake in my binocular box, and continued the rest of the drive both marvelling at my unexpected catch and wondering what kind of snake it might be. Arriving at the camp I had another quick peek into the box, but beside an angry hiss I could not get much out of the animal.
I waited until the morning for better light and dropping temperatures was all I could do.
What a surprise when I opened the box the next morning and a kind of stiff Shield-Nosed Cobra (Aspidelaps scutata) looked coldly at me. This was the first time that I saw this most interesting nocturnal, ground-dwelling reptile up close.
Still with time to spare until breakfast and accompanied by 4 brave guests’s, I took my binocular box and camera and left the campsite to find some open space within the bordering private reserve. As soon as I found a suitable spot I released the still cold serpent. It did not take too long for the morning sun to bring back all the vital life signs that make this little snake known to be quite aggressive. But before it spread its hood in typical cobra fashion it displayed another typical trait of this species, playing dead (Why didn’t it do that when I tried to catch it?)
After 2 dozens pictures or so, we all enjoyed seeing this little fellow slithering safely into the surrounding undergrowth.