Screenshot image from video: Dingo Dinkelman and black mamba at ‘Snake Valley’. Picture: Kirsty Dinkelman
Screenshot image from video: Dingo Dinkelman and black mamba at ‘Snake Valley’. Picture: Kirsty Dinkelman

WATCH: KZN snake catcher Dingo Dinkelman shares what it’s like to rescue a black mamba

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 20, 2021

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DURBAN - Although close encounters with some of Africa’s most dangerous creatures is what he lives for, Dingo Dinkelman admits there’s nothing quite like coming face-to-face with the planet’s most iconic snake. As part of Dingo’s popular ‘In Search of…’ series, the team headed out to what he considers that greatest ‘Snake Valley’ in South Africa.

“Between the towns of Richmond and Ixopo lies the Umkomaas Valley and I’ve been travelling to this valley for most of my life. In fact, the first black mamba I ever caught was right here,” recalls Dingo in the introduction to this captivating episode.

“It’s an incredible valley for reptiles because it’s hot, humid – it really has its own climate and conditions. I try to get up there at least once a month and have had some of the greatest wild snake and reptile encounters of my life in this valley. When it comes to reptiles, there’s probably no place in South Africa more exciting to visit.”

Having previously experienced the black mamba’s bite, or ‘kiss of death’ as it’s known, Dingo admits this is one snake he does feel a bit nervous about approaching: “Mamba’s have a reputation throughout the world, they really are in a league of their own. They have some of the quickest-acting venom on the planet, and are the fifth most toxic snake worldwide, so we have to keep focused, aware of our surroundings at all times.”

Screenshot image from video: Dingo Dinkelman and black mamba at ‘Snake Valley’. Picture: Kirsty Dinkelman

For this particular ‘In Search of…’ series, Dingo chose a cooler day when the black mambas are more likely to be out, basking for longer on the riverbanks. After some time searching, Dingo spots a mamba crossing the river and emerging on the opposite riverbank, and then the action starts…

“As I saw the snake hit the bank, I knew we had to go straight away if we were to have any chance of getting up close with this magnificent creature,” recalled Dingo. “Never in my life did I expect it to be in a tree, and then things got even more harrowing when he dropped off the branch and back into the water. Absolute pandemonium ensued as we were back in the water trying to see where he was going to go next.

“And then, of course, to be able to finish off the episode by wading across the river, 3-metre mamba in hand, something that I haven’t done before and probably shouldn’t do again in the future… and release it safely back into the bush… was absolutely thrilling and the very reason I risk my life to bring these animals into people’s lives and hopefully hearts.”

When Dingo and his team head to ‘Snake Valley’, they stay at an incredible site, Nyala Pans River Camp, an excursion venue that offers white water rafting, teambuilding activities, environmental and night adventures. Richard Domleo, the founder of Trailblazers Adventures who operates from Nyala Pans, is an old school friend of Dingo’s and has joined him on a number of adventures over the years.

“Dingo and team all give us a good laugh and a scare!” admitted the energetic camp facilitator. “He loves the healthy reptile population in the valley which is a haven for animals. This really is a lovely wild area, ideal for those looking to enjoy some time in nature and on the river. Although, it’s certainly a different rafting trip with Dingo, as he’ll suddenly launch into the water during a rapid, trying to catch a monitor. He’ll then show us these incredible animals up close, check its condition and let it go. He certainly gets everyone out their comfort zone but it’s great.”

Dingo has a long-held affinity for the wild, with his wildlife adventures gaining international attention in 2017 when he entered and won the Cell C and Blink Pictures #BreakTheNet (#BTN) competition featuring one-minute promo of him catching a crocodile. He’s subsequently launched his world-famous Dingo Dinkelman YouTube Channel featuring incredible wildlife escapades, with more than 350 000 subscribers with views growing steadily, averaging 3 million views monthly and an incredible 40 million views a year.

For Dingo’s latest adventure, the ‘Cage of Death’, the conservationist is spending five nights sleeping in a secure enclosure, custom-built by Conrite Walls, alongside a selection of the world’s most dangerous animals – one of which will be a black mamba! Dingo’s other ‘room mates’ will include rattlesnakes, a green anaconda, reticulated python, king cobra and Nile crocodile.

Catch these and other adventures on Dingo Dinkelman’s YouTube Channel, or follow him on Facebook at @dingodinkelman, on Instagram at Dingo Dinkelman, or visit www.dingowild.com.

IOL

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