Durban snake rescuer Nick Evans shared the highs and lows of 2023, including the rescue of a 2.85m black mamba and a child that said “F*** you” to him.
On New Year’s Eve, Evans said it has been another year of exciting rescues and it was impossible to pick out one.
One of the many special animals Evans saw in 2023 was a black mamba he and his friend Duncan Slabbert rescued in November in Northdene.
“The largest female black mamba I’ve ever seen, 2.85m, close to 3kg. She looked like an old specimen, who had probably seen a lot! It was a privilege to have had the chance to rescue her,” Evans said.
He said another year of reptile conservation drew to an end.
“Thank you to all who have supported me this year, to those who have saved snakes, and to those who took the time to learn more, to understand these animals better,” Evans said.
“It is rewarding attending calls where people mention how they call rather than kill, like they used to, before gaining more awareness, and I’ve met plenty of people who have said that this year.”
Evans said the objective is to try and help snakes, but people too, and to try and help each other co-exist.
He also said that as a result, educational efforts done by countless individuals all over the world are paying off, slowly but surely.
Evans said 2023 was a successful year for his research work.
“The various projects that I've been working on, over various lengths of time, have taught me so much, and I hope to write it up soon,” Evans said.
He said constantly learning about species such as black mambas, green mambas, southern African pythons and Nile monitor lizards, has been a fascinating experience.
He also thanked the callers and colleagues who have assisted.
Evans said: “Unfortunately, life can’t all be sunshine and rainbows, and neither is conservation work. While there have been many highs, there have also been many lows.”
“The continued rise in diesel and general cost of living has been crippling this year, and I know I’m not the only snake rescuer wondering how on Earth I’m going to continue doing this for much longer. I’ve had to cut down on the amount of calls I respond to.
“I deal with wonderful people daily, but I also have less wonderful people calling me daily. Rude, inconsiderate, the adjectives could go on. At midnight, last night (December 30), a kid, who didn’t sound like he could be older than 10, said, “F*** you”, to me. Dealing with such conversations day and night is incredibly taxing on one’s mental health,” Evans continued.
He said that something else that puts a major strain on conservationists, is being constantly exposed to how wildlife and the environment suffer at the hands of man.
“Whether it’s individuals burning snakes, or people/companies destroying natural areas. It often leaves one feeling hopeless and exhausted,” Evans said.
He said he was not sharing the lows just to rant but he wanted to show that although people see a lot of exciting things on his Facebook page or the pages of others involved in snake or wildlife conservation, realistically, it was not all happy days. He said those in other fields, such as veterinarians, are in the same boat.
“Please, if you’re speaking to one of us (or anyone really), please try to be polite and patient. I know many of you may be scared of these animals and I understand that everyone has their phobias, but a little bit of decency can go such a long way,” Evans pleaded.
“It's been a rough three years since Covid, for most people I know, but let’s hope 2024 is kind to us!”
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