There is acute shortage of anti-venom worldwide.

In 2014 during the festive season an 11- year old boy was bitten by a snake and died on the spot in the Bobirwa area.

The incident happened when the boy had gone Phane harvesting with his grandmother.

Usually during this time a group of men and women from areas such as Tamasane, Moremi, Kgagodi, Mogapi, Mogapinyana, Lesenepole and other areas within the region camp in the bush for phane harvesting.

This exposes them to the risk of being beaten by snakes.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) report, at least 100 000 people die as a result of snake bites each year, and around three times as many amputations and other permanent disabilities are caused by snakebites annually.

Bites by venomous snakes can cause paralysis that may prevent breathing, bleeding disorders that can lead to a fatal hemorrhage, and irreversible kidney failure and tissue damage that can cause permanent disability and which may result in limb amputation.

Agricultural workers and children are the most affected and children often suffer more severe effects than adults, due to their smaller body mass.

With the world faced with acute shortage of anti-venom, the challenge prompted Albert Tsatsi, a trained snake handler to alert people on how to protect themselves from snakebites during the festive season.

Tsatsi is of the view that most snakebites happen during outdoor events and usually most people do not report snakebites incidents to health authorities, which then gives the false impression that snakebites are not a big problem.

“The life span of anti-venoms is only two years, therefore our country loses a lot of money in purchasing the drugs which they often end up disposing off because people do not report snake bites. People should always report snake bites to health facilities and stop relying on traditional doctors,” advised Tsatsi.

The 32- year- old snake man from Mmakgori warned that during heat waves like the one currently experienced by Botswana, snakes seek cooler areas such as the house.

He advised people, especially those with trees near the house to always close their windows to prevent snakes from seeking refuge in inside. He further advised people to avoid keeping household garbage at their home for long periods because that would attract mice, and mice in turn attract snakes.

Garden refuse should also be disposed off immediately because it can habour snakes.

“At cattle posts, Phane and Mogwana harvesters should always wear protective clothing such as jeans and boots, and inspect trees before going under them. Even if you seek shade, inspect the tree because when a tree shakes, a snake can fall on you and bite you. In villages make sure underneath the door and any other openings are always covered to prevent snakes from entering at night when they go hunting,” added Tsatsi, an ex-soldier whose love for snake handling was awakened when he was bitten by a snake when he was still at the BDF.

He then quit the army and studied to obtain a certificate in snake awareness and venomous snake handling at the African Snake Bite Institute in 2012.

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