The farming season for rural people of southern Nigeria in Akwa Ibom state, they start land preparations for the farming seasons that start with the rains. They begin to clear the bushes and begin to burn them with fire, mostly they clear the bush fallows, and when they clear the bush fallows, animals especially mammals, birds, etc, will run away and escape from the habitat destruction to new areas, but sedentary or semi-sedentary animals like the gaboon vipers are unable to run away or hide from the local farmers, and a certain community in Akwa Ibom State, a commercial farmer who has a plantation and field of crops, frequently encounters a lot of snakes and in particular, the sedentary gaboon viper is normally killed and once we have created a working relationship with this farmers, the manager of the farm Owo idoho (a lady) and her staff Mr Iboro have been calling us whenever they encountered such snakes so that we may rescue them.
So in the last two months, we have had an increase in the number of the gaboon viper rescued, so today, we can report that the situation is becoming worrisome since the rate at which the vipers has been killed has risen as the farm clearing and bush clearing increases, apparently, we use to have such invitations from the commercial farms only, but nowadays, because of the widespread information and feedbacks, community members from elsewhere far beyond the farm now have information about the activities of our organization, the BPC and they always now pass information about snakes to us, that’s on the month of February 2023.
We received five separate invitations on the 13th day of February, we were invited by the farmers, unfortunately, I was far away in the middle belt of Nigeria, on the 14th of February 2023 on valentines day, my only daughter Eunice had to respond to the call in the community, and low and behold a gravit female had been killed, macheted badly, that her gut began to spill, my daughter brought the viper back home, she worked on it and discovered that it was laddened with 24 baby snakes that were close to their delivery, and unfortunately, they all died with their mother, they had to curate the animal and the specimens including the young fetuses. I had been back from my trip and on the 25th of February 2023), I received yet another call and it was a report of another viper, so I abandoned what I was doing and travelled to that community, lo and behold, another gravit female gaboon viper was macheted badly, another one was about to be killed but thank God for Mr Iboro and Miss Awoidoho Abasi who intervened, and saved that second specimen, so I retrieved both the dead and the living viper back to Biodiversity Preservation Center, we have painstakingly taken vital scientific information from the specimen, retrieving 22 babies from the guts of the dead viper, the living animal appears to be another very large adult gaboon viper, we have put it in rehabilitation because it appears that they may have harmed it, we are trying to observe it in our quarantine, if she is fit, we will have a task of looking for another suitable habitat to release her, this is how sad the situation has been for the specie Bitis gabonica.
We’ve learned a lot today from the specimen that was dissected, until today, I did not realize that the gaboon can have as many as six fangs at different stages of development, in case it loses its biggest fangs, there are other sets to serve the same purpose. This is all interesting for me because u have been all along assuming that the fangs were just two, and if broken the fangs will just grow back, no wonder some of the snake charmers that I know have been killed by the same snake that they claimed to have removed the fangs, it means that the real fangs may have been removed, but the subsequent fangs underneath will still perform the function of envenomation, and even if the first larger four fangs are removed, the remaining two will still do the magic of envenomation. This is what I have learned today, and I would like to share this with interested parties. I would like to discuss more because I have been handling several of these animals but I have never observed multiple fangs well developed, this is different completely from the normal teeth, the saw-like jaw teeth as you see in pythons and other snakes, Thank you for following us, support our cause today.