The next moment a warthog appeared and I told Pappi to shoot. I was watching the snake the whole time, curious to see what its reaction would be when the .300 Winchester went off. Pappi shot the warthog but the snake did not flinch or move. We all jumped up and moved away from the tree.
I told Pappi to shoot the mamba, which he did. It was an excellent shot, which removed most of the snake’s head. The snake’s body, coiled up in branches, was writhing but it did not fall down. There was blood dripping down onto our coolbox – which showed how close it was!
Sometime later, a professional hunter and I went to start one of our pumps. We opened the door of the engine room and as I stepped inside, I saw a mamba literally two feet away from me in a corner. As the door opened he started going straight up the wall! It is unbelievable that a snake can go straight up a flat surface like a wall. I could have reached out and grabbed him by the head if I had wanted to – but obviously I just backed away. As the snake retreated into the corner again, I shot him with my .44 with snake shot, even though using snake shot in a confined space such as an engine room is just as dangerous as shooting a bullet.
In all these encounters with mambas we were in very close proximity but they never seemed to be overly aggressively at all.
Another extremely poisonous snake we encountered a few times, mainly close to the house, was the Egyptian cobra, known in Namibia as the Anchieta’s cobra. We had them close to the house, probably looking for rats and other rodents. A shotgun or snake shot is by far the best protection for them.
One evening as we were getting ready for bed, my German hunting terrier, Sammy, started barking outside. We found him on the lawn, shaking an Egyptian cobra. Dogs seemed to know how to handle snakes – they go in, grab the snake and start shaking it vigorously. The dog ends up breaking the snake’s back and it doesn’t have the manoeuvrability. I shot the cobra with my wife’s revolver. However, because we were not sure if Sammy had been bitten, we were very worried. We brought him into the house and just watched him, but fortunately he showed no signs of having been bitten – which was just as well because the nearest vet was a hundred kilometres away!
Probably one of the most common poisonous snakes that one encounters most frequently is the puff adder. However, the chances of one striking you are almost zero unless you get too close to them. They are not fast like a mamba and they warn you by making a hissing sound when you get too close. Nevertheless, the puff adder is responsible for more snake bites than any other snake in Africa. This is because people often fail to see them, and they can be very aggressive when you come too close.
I lost one of my best dogs to a puff adder. He was asleep in his doghouse one night and the puff adder must have gone in and bitten him. The dog was usually running around, waiting for me in the mornings. However, that day he wasn’t there and I found him in his doghouse, dead and swollen. We found the puff adder a week later once again in the doghouse and decapitated it with a shovel. Puff adders must be respected!
What is interesting is that none of these snakes I encoun-tered were ever really aggressive. If one gives snakes a wide berth, the chances of being bitten are very, very slight. Usually when we find snake close to the house, we kill them. However, if they are deep in the bush and no threat to anyone we leave them be because, like all wildlife, they deserve to live and they do serve a valuable purpose. ASM