Johannesburg. – As unlikely as it seems, on Soweto’s famous Vilankazi Street, best know to have housed two Noble Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, there is a new attraction. A snake show.
Here Lindiwe Mngomezulu invites you into her home for a small fee and introduces you to her collection of non-venomous snakes in the hope of dispelling the myth that all snakes are dangerous. Registered with the West Rand Herpetological Association, together with her daughter Nolwandle Duma, she started raising snakes four years ago after going to see a snake show.
They currently have two albino pythons, a Burmese python, boa constrictor, anaconda and a corn snake as well as a bearded dragon lizard and two tarantula spiders. It costs about R300-R400 a month to feed them.
I visited and was shown around the well kept cages and introduced to the reptiles, each named and nurtured. I opted to have an anaconda draped around my shoulders for the duration of the tour.
This is important work and can potentially help local residents and visitors overcome their fear of reptiles, which need protecting given that ’people kill snakes every day even though they are less dangerous than dogs found on the streets.’
As somebody who loves snakes I really appreciate their commitment. I have done two snake handling courses myself in a bid to understand and possibly help towards their protection. Lindiwe’s daughter Duma is saving money for university, where she plans to study zoology or psychology. She is well set for either.
I wish them both well with their perfectly placed micro-business and conservation efforts in this unlikely area. To me snakes depict luck and charm, I hope more people can see them that way.
As discovered on an Instawalk in Soweto with #MeetSouthAfrica.