12 April 2008

Unusual Hobby

When we lived in Gweru, Zimbabwe, my daughter, Malaika, had an unusual hobby. She hunted boomslangs.* She learned the sounds that birds made when a boomslang was raiding a nest. When she heard that sound, she would go out with her catapult, a walking stick and the dogs in search of the boomslang. When she located it in a tree, she would shoot at it with her catapult until she knocked it from the tree. Once it was on the ground, she would finish it off with her walking stick. The boomslangs were not overjoyed by her hobby. However, the birds considered her a great friend and saviour.

In the above picture Malaika is holding a boomslang she killed in a most unusual manner. One morning when the rest of the family was on our weekly trip to town to check the post, buy groceries and have a dough-nut at the Dutch Oven Restaurant, Malaika stayed home doing schoolwork. While working at the dining room table, she heard our cat making funny noises in the living room. When she went to investigate, she saw this boomslang trying to get into the house through the window. It was between the screen and the window which opened with a crank located inside the house. Malaika went outside to attack the snake, but found there was no angle to get to it since the window was only partially opened. She then returned to the living room and cranked the window closed on the snake until she heard the bones crack. She knew that it couldn't move quickly with a broken back so she opened the window allowing the snake to fall to the ground. Then she ran out and finished it off with her walking stick.

Good thing I wasn't there. I'd have panicked and broken every window in the living room trying to eradicate the intruder.

*Boomslang -- A long, slender back-fanged snake with a potent venom. The venom is slow-acting and fortunately the venom yield is usually small resulting in few deaths from boomslang bites. Ordinary polyvalent anti venom is not effective for these bites. The male is bright grass green and the female is generally uniform olive. The juvenile is grey-brown with large emerald green eyes.


Steve Hayes said...

Indeed an unusual hobby. I've never seen a boomslang.

Gary said...

that's depressing. hopefully she's grown out of cruelty to animals as a hobby.

Tauratinzwe said...

Well Gary, I guess it's a matter of perspective. I'm sure the birds whose eggs and babies were being eaten considered her as a saviour rather than a practitioner of cruelty. On the other hand, the boomslangs themselves, obviously, weren't of the same opinion and would probably agree with you.

My perspective was that I welcomed the lessening of danger to my younger children that these poisonous snakes posed.

By the way, Malaika often kept non-poisonous snakes as pets for short periods of rehabilitation when she rescued them from cats and dogs. The cats probably felt she was cruel to deprive them of a wild meal.

zvinaiye said...

What a brave little girl! Even though it is quite placid, the boomslang is considered even deadlier than the mamba and the puff adder. They are quite beautiful snakes though, especially in olive green.

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