Snake charmers of Mahale

27 October 2011

Humans, it would seem, are not the only ones who are afraid of snakes. Chimpanzees don’t much care for them either. And they don’t mind saying so. Roses are red, violets are blue, but this snake was green. Four metres of prime forest cobra with the circumference of a chunky human neck. Alofu spotted it first, half way up a tree, followed by Primus. These two co

ntenders for the alpha male spot following the violent death of Pimu, were both keen to demonstrate who was the bravest. Meanwhile, pandemonium broke out as the rest of the group joined in, vocalizing at full volume.

Picture with thanks to Hans & Consuelo Beumer

Sensibly, the cobra decided it was time to beat it sharpish but was soon surrounded. Our mesmerized guests watched the confrontation in hushed silence as the snake slithered through the forest canopy, extending its full length from branch to branch, as the chimps tried to shake it to the ground.

At this stage there was a certain sympathy for the intruder as the guests and the guides contemplated the prospect of four-metre of prime forest cobra landing on their heads. But snakes are wily creatures and this time it managed to make good its escape leaving the frustrated chimps - and the relieved humans - in peace.

By Richard Madden
Greystoke Mahale

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