Instead of joining their peers at their desks this week, pupils of a KwaZulu-Natal South Coast school were sent home after an unwelcome guest decided to join them for lessons.
The pupils of Olwasini Junior Primary School in Amahlongwa were kept at home when it was discovered that a black mamba was living in one of the classrooms.
Herpetologists from Crocworld Conservation Centre in Scottburgh were called out to rescue the school’s newest classmate – assisted by local police officers. However, the snake’s chosen hiding spot made for a challenging rescue.
“The school staff identified the snake and contacted us to retrieve it, but it took three days before we were finally able to get hold of the snake,” explained Crocworld Conservation Manager Martin Rodrigues.
“The snake was hiding in the actual brickwork near the ceiling, inside the wall. It would be spotted but we couldn’t find the hole it was getting in through.”
After visits to the school on Wednesday and Thursday, staff saw the snake on Friday and were able to watch it while the Crocworld staff rushed to the school. They had to break through a part of the wall to retrieve the snake, all without harming it.
Mpume Mvubu, the principal of Olwasini Junior Primary School, explained that staff first had noticed the two-metre black mamba on the roof of the school.
“We called the police and Crocworld Conservation Centre to rescue us! On the third day, they broke the wall, and the snake was hiding deep inside,” he said.
Because of the danger posed by black mambas, the school pupils were kept away from class for the duration of the snake capture. They started classes on Friday after the snake had been removed.
Rodrigues said: “It’s important to remember that snake captures are done by professionals. You need to know what you’re doing, use the right equipment and understand the behaviour of the animal – especially with a snake like a black mamba.”
The snake will be cared for and released into a safe area, he added.
Rodrigues cautioned against trying to remove a snake without assistance, or killing the animal, as this puts the individual at risk. He advised keeping a watch on the snake, from a distance of about five metres, and immediately calling a professional for help.