On a sunny day this Autumn, a small crowd gathered at the Nokulunga Gumede Memorial Wall where Pat McKrill, the Snake Man, had been invited by the Mopophomeni Conservation Group (MCG) to do a presentation on snakes. “It’s going to be epic” quipped Penz Malinga as over 50 people rolled in. Even municipal workers passing by in the street stopped to see what was happening and joined the action!

After an introduction to his slithery friends assisted by members of the MCG, Pat divided the crowd into small groups so that everyone got a chance to experience the movement of a snake. Many got the opportunity to touch one, too.

The day ended with sharing the stories that had led many to be scared of snakes and a chance to ask lots of questions. Pat handled these with humour and Ntombenhle Mtambo observed that the audience’s attitude changed. “They think it is a dangerous thing that needs to be beaten, but today, because they got to see, touch and hold, they are seeing with new eyes and respect.” She added “I am going to help my Holiday Club kids write a script about snakes and we can perform for Pat when he comes back to Mpophomeni.”

Lindiwe Mkhize commented afterwards “It was a fantabulous day of fun and discovering. Pat’s advice was simple and effective – When you see a snake in your yard, just stand still until it continues on its journey.” She also pointed out that people didn’t seem to realise that snakes can also get hurt and that if a big human steps on one by mistake, its reaction will be to bite back.

Apparently, everyone is talking about snakes in the street this week, which has made the members of the MCG very pleased. One of their aims is to promote animal rights, along with sustainable living, biodiversity conservation and food gardening. N3Toll Concession is assisting this group to host speakers on interesting environmental topics, and, with the help of a few small snakes may have just started a revolution.

See more at: http://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/izinyoka/ or on facebook: mpophomeni hills (supplied by Midlands Conservancies Forum)