Snakes Alive Zambia Education & Conservation (SAZI) is a limited company that provides a service that is intended to educate participants, customers and clients by promoting the preservation of Zambian herpetofauna, as well as contribute to the conservation of the class of creature referred to as “reptilia”. Educational and conservation related activities take place in accordance with the Zambia Wildlife Act, 2015 and under the auspices of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
Apart from giving snake-related presentations, providing visual material, educational information and advice on request, “Snakes Alive Zambia” offers 3 basic training courses designed to give understanding and skills. They are developed and packaged in accordance with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and are currently under scrutiny by the Zambian Technical, Education & Entrepreneurial Training Authority (TEVETA) for accreditation.
Course 1 - Snake awareness and recognition
Course 2 - Toxinology and snakebite management
Course 3 - Basic snake handling
In relation to the “conservation” related business intent, plans are being put in place to acquire a plot of land to accommodate the head office of SAZI (Snakes Alive Zambia) Conservation and Education Limited and to develop and maintain, under the auspices of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, a facility aimed at:
Housing of reptiles in secure environments that replicate nature.
Educate the community and visitors with guided tours, displays, training and presentations regarding these creatures (bio-diversity).
Reptile rescue in the district and further afield
Breeding of species and incubation of eggs for the purpose of release into specified habitats (in-situ conservation).
Training of “Wildlife Management Students” (attachment periods).
Provide employment for ±14 selected community members
Learning through play (supervised amusement park):
Learning through play is a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments.
Apparati that promote coordination and focus
Provide employment for ±8 selected community members
Promoting a positive attitude towards snakes
Snakes Alive Zambia Education & Conservation (SAZI) wants to change the traditional thinking about snakes and reptilia in general. This is because they are important in the environment in that they are efficient predators that play a strong role in the “food chain” by controlling the numbers of pests such as rodents (rats, mice, shrews, voles, etc.), amphibians such a frogs, lizards, birds, other snakes, etc.
Changing the traditional thinking about snakes and reptilia in general
Educating people on the importance of snakes in the eco-system
Contributing to snakebite prevention as well as decisions by snakebite victims that can save lives
When these food chains are disrupted by killing the creatures involved, we upset the balance of the eco- system and cause an over-abundance of some creatures and a shortage of others. Over time, this can have some serious consequences for humans.
For example; most snake species include rodents as part or all of their diet. Rodents are destructive creatures, they multiply quickly and carry certain diseases that can transfer to human beings. When we upset the balance of the eco-system by eliminating snakes in a prolific manner, we allow the rodent populations and other snake food sources to explode into unmanageable proportions. Amongst other risk factors, controlling rodent populations in an unnatural way can come at significant cost and discomfort.
Another aspect which highlights the need to change traditional thinking about snakes is the alarmingly high number of bites and deaths across Africa, including Zambia. Many of the bites and deaths go unrecorded. The vast majority of the ±600 species of snakes occurring across the African continent are classified as harmless or non-venomous. However, traditional thinking dictates the belief that all snakes are evil monsters and that all can and want to kill human beings. This could not be further from the truth. A sound understanding of snakes as creatures would contribute to snakebite prevention as well as decisions by snakebite victims that can save lives in the event of snakebites. Only ±15% of the total number of snake species have the potential to seriously harm or kill a human being. Many Africa-based medical professionals not only lack the medical resources to treat snakebite effectively but also lack the specialized knowledge and skill for this treatment.