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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Slope Soaring in Africa, and snakes

Having read the post about the snake at Evans place ,it reminds one that we share our enviroment and flying fields with some interesting critters. The Rinkhals which is a local snake has bands on its neck , and is generally light/dark brown to blackish in colour , its first line of defence is to spit its venom, if it gets a chance it may then bite. It also 'plays' dead as a defense ,so its wise to always treat it with extreme caution.

It is one of the cobra family and quite common. Evan and his brave assistants did the right thing to release it ,as these snakes are great at controlling the rodent and frog population.

Its always wise to give these guys plenty of space and they will move off rather than confront or bite. Its venom is toxic, a glider pilot was bitten down in the Cape some time back but he was knowledgeable about snakes , sought help and handled the situation well , he luckily survived.

I am always on the look out for snakes when retrieving gliders on the slope, or in the veld .
At Volkrust, you may also encounter the Puff adder which lies still when approached using its camouflage to evade predators , It will bite you if stood on .Wear good leather boots if possible and look were you step, they often sun themselves on pathways.

I asked the local farmer if puff adders are common and was surprised to hear that in Volkrust, he often finds Rinkhals and has only once seen a puff adder, but they prefer the rocky areas.

Where else would you be able to fly in surroundings such as these , check this glider making it landing approach with the Blesbuck grazing underneath, on the Volksrust mountain.

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